The Case for Creativity


From the December issue of Rock Content Magazine.

“Creativity is extremely difficult to define,” said David Lubars, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer at BBDO, an award winning advertising agency, “but incredibly easy to identify.”

Much has been said about the need for creativity and innovation in Marketing. I’m personally a (very) late believer in creativity; I spent most of my career as a marketer in heavy B2B organizations, and let’s be honest, as most B2B marketers still do, I never thought, not even for a moment, to infuse creativity in my job, trapped by technical and short-term assignments.

During my career I was privileged to speak with senior marketers from many large enterprises – and most of them told me that becoming “more creative” was central to their strategy. Yet, most of them struggled with how to actually do it; but the belief and the intention were there.

Of course, that is a very unscientific observation. And that’s precisely the problem with the debate around creativity and innovation in marketing. It’s based entirely on anecdotal evidence. Only recent studies have finally associated business performance and marketing effectiveness to creativity.

But before we go too much further, it might be useful to pause for a moment and define what we mean by “creativity”. What exactly is “creative” marketing and how does it differ from the “uncreative”? 

American English Professor Peter Shillingsburg once said that “creativity is whatever isn’t something else”, confirming the common opinion that creativity is most easily identified when something new is brought into existence out of nothing. Originality and innovation are then the first and perhaps most unequivocal characteristic of creativity.

Another crucial point is that creativity superchargers great strategy as opposed to being a replacement for it. All the best marketing campaigns are great strategic ideas before they’re great creative executions.

Finally, the other characteristic of creative marketing is well described as “engagement”. The ability of an idea not only to communicate clearly our message, but also to be so interesting, enjoyable, fun and entertaining to engage our audience. 

Creativity makes our content more likely to be remembered, and more likely not to end up being one of the thousand messages that go unlistened every day.

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