For many students, as well as many advertising and marketing practitioners, the most interesting aspect of advertising is the creative side. We have all at one time or another been intrigued by an ad and admired the creative insight that went into it. A great ad is a joy to behold and often an epic to create, as the cost of producing a TV commercial can exceed $1 million. Many companies see this as money well spent. They realize that the manner in which the advertising message is developed and executed is often critical to the success of the promotional program, which in turn can influence the effectiveness of the entire marketing program. Procter & Gamble, Levi Strauss, Nissan, General Motors, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nike, McDonald's, and many other companies spend millions of dollars each year to produce advertising messages and hundreds of millions more to purchase media time and space to run them. While these companies make excellent products, they realize creative advertising is also an important part of their marketing success.
Good creative strategy and execution can often be central to determining the success of a product or service or reversing the fortunes of a struggling brand. Conversely, an
The Importance of Creativity in Advertising
Figure 8-1 Burger King advertising themes and agencies
• "We Do It Like You Do It" (1987-1989) Agency: NW Ayer
• "Sometimes you gotta break the rules" (1989-1991)
• "BK Tee Vee: I Love This Place" (1992-1994) Agency: D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles
• "Back to Basics" (1994) Agency: UniWorld Group, Inc.
• "Get Your Burger's Worth" (1994-1996)
• "Go the Distance—When You Have It Your Way It Just Tastes Better" (1999)
• "Got the Urge" (2000) Agency: Lowe Lintas & Partners
• "The Whopper Says" (2001-2002) Agency: McCann-Erickson
• "At Burger King, You Got It" (2002- ) Agency: Amoeba advertising campaign that is poorly conceived or executed can be a liability. Many companies have solid marketing and promotional plans and spend substantial amounts of money on advertising, yet have difficulty coming up with a creative campaign that will differentiate them from their competitors. For example, Burger King has changed its advertising theme 11 times in the past 15 years and changed agencies 6 times in search of a campaign that would give the chain a strong identity in the fast-food market (Figure 8-1). During many of these campaigns, market share dropped and franchises were unhappy with the company's inability to come up with an effective campaign.1 In July 2002, Burger King was sold by parent company Diageo to an investment consortium led by Texas Pacific Group.2 The company also added an additional agency, Deutsch, to its roster to handle the advertising for its value menu and some local franchisee associations. It will be interesting to see if the agencies can develop an effective campaign to reposition Burger King in the fast-food market (and how long it will be before the company changes agencies once again).
Just because an ad or commercial is creative or popular does not mean it will increase sales or revive a declining brand. Many ads have won awards for creativity but failed to increase sales. In some instances, the failure to generate sales has cost the agency the account. For example, many advertising people believe some of the best ads of all time were those done for Alka-Seltzer in the 1960s and 70s, including the classic "Mama Mia! That's a spicy meatball!" and "I can't believe I ate the whole thing." While the commercials won numerous creative awards, Alka-Seltzer sales still declined and the agencies lost the account.3 In the late 90s, Nissan asked its agency to change the popular "Enjoy the ride" campaign that was widely praised for its amusing, creative executions but was not helping increase sales.4 Nissan dealers complained that the ads did not focus enough attention on the product, and in some cases comparisons with the competition were used. However, in late 2002 Nissan launched a new advertising campaign using "Shift" as the umbrella tagline.5 The new campaign uses a combination of emotional and product-focused ads that are designed to strengthen Nissan's brand image while showing its revitalized product line, which includes the new 350Z sports car (Exhibit 8-2).
Many advertising and marketing people have become ambivalent toward, and in some cases even critical of, advertising awards.6 They argue that agency creative people are often more concerned with creating ads that win awards than ones that sell their clients' products. Other advertising people believe awards are a good way to recognize
Exhibit 8-2 In Nissan's new ads, the cars are once again the stars creativity that often does result in effective advertising. Global Perspective 8-1 discusses how the emphasis on creative awards has shifted to the international arena with awards like the Cannes Lions.
As we saw in Chapter 7, the success of an ad campaign cannot always be judged in terms of sales. However, many advertising and marketing personnel, particularly those on the client side, believe advertising must ultimately lead the consumer to purchase the product or service. Finding a balance between creative advertising and effective advertising is difficult. To better understand this dilemma, we turn to the issue of creativity and its role in advertising.
What Is Creativity? Advertising Creativity
Creativity is probably one of the most commonly used terms in advertising. Ads are often called creative. The people who develop ads and commercials are known as creative types. And advertising agencies develop reputations for their creativity. Perhaps so much attention is focused on the concept of creativity because many people view the specific challenge given to those who develop an advertising message as being creative. It is their job to turn all of the information regarding product features and benefits, marketing plans, consumer research, and communication objectives into a creative concept that will bring the advertising message to life. This begs the question: What is meant by creativity in advertising?
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