From original to critical: shifting the dial on creativity

ABG says it's time for the advertising industry to review how it creates campaigns as purposeful brand marketing gains impetus and ‘making a difference’ can change mindsets

Everyone loves creatives, the ones who can turn a dry brief into an original and impactful campaign. Historically they are seen as the ‘marketing superpowers’, basking in the glory on awards nights.

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But does the industry love creatives? A Clients and Creativity study from the WFA, which surveyed 640 senior client-side marketers across 34 markets, found less than a third (28 per cent) regard creatives as critical to the success of their business.

In a sustainable age – and in a period when the industry faces assaults from all sides – the role of the creative has never been more important. Placing creativity at the heart of the decision-making process will not only help you stand out from the crowd, but key to the industry’s future prosperity.

Advertising mustn’t lose its sense of fun, its ability to raise a smile. Time and again, the best campaigns are the ones that make consumers laugh or happy. But the times are changing; clients want purposeful brand campaigns that engage and inform. Creativity must beat a new path.

Yet the day-to-day challenges for creatives, highlighted in the WFA report, are plentiful, whether it’s dealing with risk averse cultures (51 per cent), short term-ism (48 per cent), too many decision makers (44 per cent) or budget cuts (40 per cent). Reconciling corporate policy with marketing communication realities remain an enduring challenge.

Surprisingly, for all the rapid digital transformation since COVID, relatively few blamed an over-emphasis on data (21 per cent); it appears humans and corporate culture stymie creativity and growth, not technology.

Alongside better briefs, creatives must be allowed to move the brand forward in the way they see fit. That means working collaboratively with clients to build trust; thinking of agencies less as ‘suppliers’ and more as vital partners, in which everyone works towards common goals, and engagement success.

More than half of those surveyed (51 per cent) said ‘improved understanding of the customer’ would make them more creative.

The industry continues to evolve to meet the needs of our digital-first societies; The Ad Council recently announced a new career accelerator program designed to foster the next generation of talent. Fellows will r

Ziad Ghorayeb, regional managing director, Dentsu Creative MENA, said: ‘’Designing for the modern world means investing in teams that reflect the modern world. Today’s agencies must embrace difference as the only true way to deliver work that makes a difference.”

Creativity is a powerful tool that can help businesses create differentiation in the market, believes Bassel Kakish, CEO of Publicis Groupe, Middle East & Turkey. “The power of the big idea is rooted in the heart of creativity; however, it should not be siloed from data and insights,” he said.

“We believe that creativity is further enriched by unlocking data, opening a window to an audience that we want to engage. With real identities at the core of decision making, we can harness the full potential of creativity and dynamic technologies to create personalised and meaningful experiences like never before.”

Tarek Miknas, CEO at FP7 McCann, said studies about the influence of Creativity on marketing effectiveness have proved “time and again” that Creativity has a linear relationship to Effectiveness, that Creativity works by making advertising more likely to stand out, more likely to be recalled, more likely to be talked about and more likely to persuade people.

“Evidence points to the fact that the more creative companies (not necessarily agencies) are, the most successful they are,” he said.

“High level or award-winning Creativity is absolutely fundamental for significant performance. Agencies swear by this, and clients know it to be true as well. However, a culture of creative appreciation and a belief in brave work starts all the way on top, often leaving clients in an uncomfortable position between their ambitions and more conservative corporate cultures.”

Elda Choucair, CEO of Omnicom Media Group MENA and vice chair of the ABG, said the report shows there is a broad and deep consensus on the fact creativity has been curtailed, but more importantly, a clear way forward: creatives need to be provided with more freedom, commitment, autonomy and adequate funding.

“Creativity can come at any point in any place and from anyone. It’s not a job title, it’s a mindset,” she said.

“Once organisations accept that differentiation comes from innovative thinking, they will be more willing to embrace and empower talent that breaks the mould. Visibility, fame and preference will flow more easily, fuelling business success. In this study, advertisers here will find plenty of evidence and experience from their global peers to start or progress on that journey.”