Creative Communications. It Matters

Creativity is a great buzz-word, which helps us to impress clients. But it’s also a device that allows us to reach our audiences more effectively.



Creativity is a great buzz-word, which helps us to impress clients. But it’s also a device that allows us to reach our audiences more effectively.

Recent research by the IPA looked at a reserve of over 800 comms campaigns to understand what made them effective.

The most effective work was driven by a higher investment in creative ideas in campaigns. This is the case, despite an unnerving trend away from investment in creativity in our sector.

We have been, as the IPA put it, “selling creativity short.”

Why does it matter?
Earlier industry analyses demonstrated that creativity helps to get more out of a budget. Of historical campaigns submitted for an IPA Effectiveness Award, the industry body has observed a 10 to 1 multiplier effect for creatively awarded work.

Why? IPA Judges Peter Field and Les Binet stress that creativity drives “brand fame,” which in turn drives reach at scale.

“Brand fame” is often defined as the extent to which a campaign generates online and offline buzz, and by definition plays out in the earned media space. It’s often seen as the most effective way to drive business success e.g. the yearly launch of the John Lewis Christmas advert.

Short returns, long-term losses?
Marketing and brand departments have long focused on delivering sales growth. This is traditionally done in one of two ways: a) short-term sales activations or promotions b) long-term brand building.

The most recent IPA findings show a rise in short-termism in marketing – and demonstrate that this shift isn’t a good sign for effective marketing.

Based on the IPA’s Databank, short-term activations produced downward year-on-year growth, while long-term brand investment leveraging creative executions produced an upward trend.

In short: short-term campaigns underachieve in market share and profit measures over the long-term. Specifically, compared to the 10:1 multiplier for long-term brand building campaigns, short-term campaigns produced only a 3 to 1 multiplier of marketing budgets.

What can we learn about creativity & long-term brand building?
Long-term, creative campaigns drive a higher net profit return than campaigns that focus on short-term goals. Case in point: John Lewis in 2015 drove an £8.78 net profit per £1 spent on marketing, compared to £1.85 net profit average for all IPA-shortlisted campaigns.

Additionally, long-term brand building campaigns build and sustain high-levels of awareness. How then does John Lewis use these levels of awareness as a platform for its marketing?

i) Mass premium is the sweet spot
By making the most of the brand fame produced by their content, John Lewis both increased the number of customers shopping with the brand, and increased the average spend per customer among its heavier buyers.

ii) Aim for fame
High prominence (or “salience”) through mass reach media is the second key driver for John Lewis’s success. By reducing the sensitivity of consumers to price, smart creative has helped the brand to increase margins. We have also seen the same effect in sponsorship activations. Awareness of a brand’s sponsorship pushed consumers towards more premium brands in a consideration set for an FMCG brand.

iii) Emotion is the profit driver
Again, it reduces sensitivity to price. John Lewis ads are consistently at the top of Brainjuicer’s Feel Good 50 league table, a ranking of adverts which show adverts with the highest ‘emotional impact.’ Creativity is key to tapping into these human emotions.

iv)Scale matters
John Lewis pushed creativity at scale; it achieved 2.5 billion exposures over the last four years. It focused on TV and print to drive brand fame

As we’ve seen, brand measures (share of voice, net profit per £ spent) benefit hugely from a long-term creative approach to marketing.  This should be welcome news for PR agencies, as long-term thinking places the focus on two components at which we have always excelled: creative input and building platforms for brand fame.

So remember, we need to ensure creative solutions sit at the heart of our campaigns – and that we’re optimising against long-term objectives to drive real value for our clients.

Don’t sell your creativity short; it can unlock fame and scale and allow you more budget towards what works.

Source: Holmes Report


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