Monday, August 20, 2012

Why Planners Should Love Creativity

Creativity and strategy is like a game of chess,
only with less horses and more pawns
Now and again you speak to a creative who has the impression that planners aren't that fussed about the creative output of an agency. That disappoints me, because everyone involved should care about the creativity and quality of the work their agency produces. To me it is absolutely fundamental that planners both understand and fight for creativity in the work they do.

Look at the link between creativity and effectiveness.

Look (in the UK at least) at the ads that the public truly get involved with and remember, they are entertaining and creative. The ones that stick in your head. It's been said so many times that advertising is far more long term than we ever try and track, and the influence of a great piece of work far far outlives the campaign.
Think about the Smash Martians that over 30 years later are still influencing people to buy Smash and have created a gigantically long term positive association. If we want to change behaviour then what way is more exciting that to create lifelong positive shifts towards our brands.

Consider those brands that have made, or reclaimed their fortune based upon great creative advertising: Stella Artois (a tiny brand until the Reassuringly Expensive campaign), Levis (a brand stuck with dated perceptions at the time - turned around several times by great work from BBH. I know personally that there are many brands that I have bought purely because of a piece of great work. (Sprite - Obey Your Thirst, Tango - You Know When You've Been Tango'd, Kia Ora - We all adora Kia Ora, etc). Hell, the advertising for Sony Minidisc not only made me buy a Sony MD player, the track on the ad was the very first thing I copied over to it.

Let's keep reading creative books as well as planning,
strategy and behavioural books.
(I just wanted an excuse to post this photo,
it took ages to set up)
More importantly, people like entertaining, engaging and creative advertising. No one wants to watch 4 minutes of being shouted at. No one wants to see ads that are painful to experience. (I once sat in a focus group where they referred to an existing ad as noisy, crowded and 'stressful' to watch. How can you expect to change behaviour if the creative idea and execution tunes people out? No one wants to see 50 ads all made exactly the same talking about the same thing for indistinguishable products.

A key part of planning is understanding the people who buy the products we sell, and finding a better, more effective way to talk to them. If you don't understand what types of advertising people like, how can you expect to produce ads that they will engage with and respond to? At the very least we should be finding exciting new ideas to spark off the imagination of the creatives. Taking the right thing to say, the right audience to say it to, and then giving the creatives a platform to create amazing work.

Maybe it didn't happen this way, but John Lewis's Always a Woman Ad perfectly nailed their target customer and brand reputation in a way that you'd hope a planner crafted into the right brief. Tango's 90's work created a brand that was bold, brave and noisy, giving the creatives a perfect opportunity to create some amazing work; the sort of brand thinking that you'd hope was down to good planning.

Every good planner I know cares about the creativity of the work. Maybe we need to put more effort into talking with the creative folk and creating some mututal understanding. Of course as planners we have other things to consider, but just because we write slides and draw graphs doesn't mean we don't love great work, and we should always be clear on that.

I believe that if we don't help inspire and fight for creativity, we really aren't doing our jobs right.

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