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Unlocking the value of creativity in advertising: How to bridge the creativity gap

Have you ever wondered about the role of creativity in advertising? If the answer is yes, you're not alone in your curiosity. Creativity is the elusive yet indispensable fuel that powers effective advertising.

Often celebrated, yet rarely fully harnessed, creativity presents a central challenge for advertisers. While marketers understand the power of creativity, they often struggle to sell its value in boardrooms. This disconnect is what we call the "creativity Gap".

Unlocking the value of creativity in advertising: How to bridge the creativity gap

Understanding creativity and its challenges

Firstly, let's delve into the concept of creativity. It's a frequently pursued objective, yet it remains a vague and frequently misunderstood tool in crafting effective advertising that fosters brand growth. The common thread among various definitions is the belief that originality is at the heart of creativity. However, this belief poses a significant challenge when developing creative work aimed at making a commercial impact. Why? Because originality brings uncertainty, a factor that businesses often shy away from.

The standoff: Originality vs safety

The advertising industry’s response to this inclination toward safety has often been to encourage brands to embrace ‘bravery’ and ‘boldness’. This approach can create a standoff between agencies advocating for original and unique work and businesses favouring a safety-first approach, often commissioning familiar work that has previously proven successful.

Redefining creativity: The perspective shift

But what if we're missing the mark? What if creativity in advertising means more than just originality? If we truly comprehend its meaning, could we discover evidence of its value from an unlikely source - regular, everyday people?

Creativity through the eyes of the audience

To better understand creativity from the consumer's perspective, we conducted a survey with a sample of 20,000 people. Here's what we learned: originality, represented by “unique/different”, is a significant part of their perception of creativity. However, it's accompanied by themes that represent their experience, such as “fun/entertaining”, finding the advertising “interesting/informative” and having feelings of “joy/happiness”. This led us to propose a definition of creativity in advertising from regular people, "An original or different experience that offers value to the end audience."

Unlocking the value of creativity in advertising: How to bridge the creativity gap

Lessons from misfits: Harnessing creativity

Let’s explore how we can more effectively utilise creativity in advertising to ignite brand growth, by learning from popular culture’s misfits.

Experiment to learn:

Mozart and Bach showed us that experimentation is critical if originality is key to creativity. Their prolific output and willingness to take risks were pivotal factors in the delivery of any creative endeavour. Elon Musk is a modern example of this principle.

Reapply cultural elements:

Johnny Clegg adeptly utilised the world around him as inspiration, incorporating its elements into his work to captivate audiences.

Balance the new and familiar:

Creativity isn't about originality for its sake; it's about the interaction between familiar experiences and the injection of new, never-before-seen experiences. Comedian Trevor Noah is an excellent example of this balance.

The impact of creativity on advertising effectiveness

After analysing 1,700 recently evaluated ads spanning 18 countries, we uncovered three overarching advertising experiences, culminating in the development of the Misfits Framework:

Creative experiences:

Ads that the audience finds unique, surprising, entertaining, and talkable.

Creative ideas:

An experience where the audience has learned something new; an ad that differentiates the brand from others.

Empathy and fitting in:

Ads not necessarily linked to creativity as such, but more about fit and importantly, a feeling that the advertising has been created with the audience in mind.

Unlocking the value of creativity in advertising: How to bridge the creativity gap

Concluding thoughts: The value of creativity

Understanding creativity's inherent value is essential for its effective application in advertising. It's not just about being different or original; it's about connecting the ‘extra’ to the ‘ordinary’ to create advertising experiences of value. Creativity, when utilised well, entertains, connects, and empathises with the audience, representing the very human experience a brand can help deliver.

So, are you ready to bridge the Creativity Gap and unlock the true value of creativity in your advertising and in your business?

For more information, please contact:

Michelle Weilbach-Labuschagne

Service Line Lead: Creative Excellence – Ipsos in South Africa

About Ipsos

  • Ipsos is one of the largest market research companies in the world, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.
  • Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinionsand motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers, or employees.Our 75 solutions are based on primary data from our surveys, social media monitoring, and qualitative or observational techniques.
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  • Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has been listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and Mid-60 indices and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).
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Ipsos is an innovative, entrepreneurial, client-focused organisation, providing research services to clients on a global basis. We set ourselves high standards and aim to work collaboratively in partnership with our teams in order to service our clients most effectively.
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