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If you are a marketing or an advertising professional smitten by the idea of creativity in advertising, you are not alone.
But . . . which school of advertising creativity do you swear by?
Do you believe—like Luke Sullivan—that ‘Creativity is like washing a pig. It’s messy. It has no rules. No clear beginning, middle or end. It’s kind of a pain in the ass, and when you’re done, you’re not sure if the pig is really clean or even why you were washing a pig in the first place’?
Or, do you believe—as David Ogilvy did—that ‘A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself’?
While Sullivan talks about a process, Ogilvy spotlights an outcome.
If you ask me, I believe advertising creativity isn’t so much a result as a particular process.
In my mind, that process—used by the legendary mail-order copywriter Eugene Schwartz—goes something like this:
Step 1: Make sure the prospect/consumer/buyer persona is the benchmark against which all advertising decisions will be judged (at the agency as well as at the client’s).
I'm assuming here that your brand has already been put through the positioning wringer.
If it hasn't, I highly recommend the Al Ries & Jack Trout classic, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.
You can also check out the Ries & Ries blog for more insights.
Let me mention an important point here.
Your prospect/consumer/buyer persona is that individual who is most interested in your product/service/cause or one like it.
So, why unnecessarily bother targeting anyone else or entertain assumptions and personal opinions about “short attention spans”, “nobody reads any more”, “lots of white space”, “the prospect wants to be entertained”, “making them laugh can make them buy”, “storytelling” (which is a technique, by the way), “hitch your brand to a cause”, and the like?
When in doubt, test.
Test some more.
Step 2: Find out how close your prospect is to your brand.
Quick! Name a smartphone.
If you said 'iPhone' or even 'Samsung', it’s safe to say that the distance between you and the brand you named is probably negligible.
You need little to no convincing that the iPhone/Samsung is the brand for you.
One reason why?
The iPhone especially has become synonymous with a self-expressive brand which enjoys high social approval in general and among the demographics it targets in particular.
But . . . what if you are a smartphone brand nobody knows anything about?
What if you are an also-ran, a decent if not a great brand in terms of quality but one that’s just hanging in there?
Your advertising—not to mention your business and marketing in general—may have to work much harder to even register on the prospect's radar or gain word-of-mouth traction and social approval.
The options before you (besides overhauling R & D and other core business areas)?
Offline advertising hinging on a celebrity endorsement?
Blanket advertising to take advantage of the mere exposure effect?
PR . . . ?
Look at all practicable options.
For example, don’t turn a blind eye to traditional media and methods just because everybody seems to be boarding the social media ark.
The flood may just be a rumour.
Instead, let your prospect and your idea or core message steer your choice.
If you want to be a ‘social-first brand’, please remember that social media is essentially a one-to-one marketing channel.
You are unlikely to make much progress in the social media world if you haven’t made your brand presence felt in the real world.
In other words, much of the marketing grunt work needs to be done offline.
Only then can you expect to cash in online and via social media.
What if you are a legacy brand?
Consider the consequences of alienating your traditional demographic.
Will going after, say, millennials be worth it in the long run?
Will bending over backwards to appeal to virtually everyone consolidate or undermine your brand equity?
Speaking of legacy brands, I would love to see many of them targeting prospects who are already familiar with the brand (as customers or family members of customers) a few months or decades from now, depending on the kind of product/service you market.
Otherwise, you could be leaving a lot of moolah on the table for your competition to grab.
Now, let’s talk about the final step.
Step 3: Go through your own advertising (if available) and that of your competitors with a fine-tooth comb.
What have the top brands (and maybe even you) been telling your prospect all this while?
The idea is to ultimately not tell the prospect the same thing as the competition, be it visually, verbally or in terms of the core advertising message, if any.
Because . . . what’s the point if your advertising reminds your prospect of your competition’s brand or even their advertising?
Surprisingly, your advertising need not be better than the competition’s.
According to advertising veteran Dave Trott, your advertising may simply have to be different in order to stand out in the crowd.
But before you let your imagination run riot, please remember:
"Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process."—David Ogilvy
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Quotes source: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/inspirational-advertising-quotes-39194
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My name is Benedict Paul. I've been writing copy (and learning the craft) since 1995.