Give, to Get the Most Out of Your Ad Campaign

By , Executive Creative Director, Hanson Dodge

Good advertising works. It gets your message in front of your audience and persuades them to buy into your product and brand. The more creative the advertising the better it works. In fact, highly creative campaigns are proven to communicate your message better, engage your audience more effectively and inspire them to share with others. Advertising legend Bill Bernbach once said “Properly practiced, creativity can make one ad do the work of 10.” He was wrong. The number is actually 11.

According to Peter Field’s 2010 study for IPA (Institute for Practitioners of Advertising), highly creative advertising provides a return on media investment that is 11 times higher than average advertising. In other words, you’d need to spend 11 times more on a less creative campaign than you would on a highly creative one to get the same result. Studies also show that creative campaigns outperform uncreative campaigns in awareness, brand perception, brand trust, brand recall, persuasion, penetration, market share and profit gains.

The numbers make an airtight case: you need more creative campaigns. You also know this intuitively. Just yesterday, you were exposed to 5,000 plus advertising messages. Take a moment and see how many can you recall today. Two? Three? Zero? At conservative estimates, you remember .001%.

So why did you remember them? Value.

Strong creative campaigns give something to their audience. They make us laugh or cry. They give us beauty or a new perspective. They help us remember our spouse’s birthday, or remind us to call our parents. They inspire us to be a better versions of ourselves. They excite us, thrill us, shock us and educate us. They add value to our world and we, if sufficiently inspired, share it with a friend or relative in hopes of adding a little value to their world. When that happens, companies experience all kinds of transformations. Most importantly, positive sales results. That’s what creativity can do for your brand.

What is creativity, exactly?

So, you may be asking, what is creativity and how can I get it? In regards to advertising/marketing communications, James Hurman’s book, The Case for Creativity defines highly creative campaigns as work that excels on three key measures:

1. Originality: Novel and innovative ideas that haven’t been seen before
2. Engagement: Ideas that elicit an emotional response or a compulsion to interact with or share them
3. Execution: A high degree of executional craft quality

Creative campaigns that meet these criteria are easy to spot in hindsight, but can be difficult to put your finger on in development. The truly original is scary to most people. It’s unfamiliar, unproven and feels risky. And if you are like most CMOs and brand managers, there is no room for error, so risk is not an option.

Luckily, we’ve got the statistics to back us on this one. Plus, there’s a way to make creativity happen that is grounded in reality, and it only requires two inputs: insights and clarity.

Insights: Great creative is rooted in consumer insights

Meaningful audience insights are the cornerstone in the development of your creative campaign. Staying true to them will ensure the ideas don’t go off the rails. The goal is to get the people you want to communicate with, your target audience, to show up in the brainstorm room. You can achieve this by arming your creative team with a deep understanding of your target’s lives—how they think about, see and move through the world. The more your creative team understands your audience the better the odds that they’ll uncover that elusive big idea that will engage and inspire the audience.

How do you uncover these guiding consumer insights? Check our Associate Creative Director Joe Ciccarelli’s article, Creating an Emotional Connection: Four Consumer Research Methods for High-Performance Campaigns, to find out. 

Clarity: Ambiguity kills creativity

You also need to be crystal clear with your creative team. Remove any ambiguity about what you want to accomplish, what you want to say and what you are expecting people to think, feel or do as a result of interacting with your campaign. A tight, simple brief that is clear and to the point does two things; it actually inspires more ideas, while also making it easier to reject ideas that are off base.

Combining insights and clarity to find the big idea

Use your insights and your clear concise direction to guide your team’s development of a big idea. Ideally, you’re looking for the one big core creative direction, an idea that you will eventually surround with equally creative tactical ideas. Think Coke’s “Open Happiness,” Dove’s “Real Beauty” or REI’s “#optoutside.” Try a few on. You don’t need to go too deep to get a sense for an idea’s potential. Do they feel original and engaging? Will someone look at this and want to share it? Can it be expressed powerfully in many different executions? Will you be able to execute the tactics with a high level of craftsmanship?

If it all lines up and the idea feels right, then it is time to pull the trigger. Trust yourself, trust your insights, trust your team and pull it. Good things are coming soon. If you need help, don’t hesitate to call. Creating anything that adds value to our world — like an engaging and culturally enriching ad campaign — is what makes Hanson Dodge tick.

Chris Buhrman, Executive Creative Director, Hanson Dodge

Idea proliferation and open collaboration have been the keys to success in Chris’ 27-year career. After 14 years as a vice president and creative director at Cramer-Krasselt and a brief stint as ECD at BVK, Chris has brought his wealth of knowledge and diversified brand experiences with him to Hanson Dodge. His portfolio includes campaigns for everything from Ski-Doo snowmobiles, Evinrude Outboard Motors and Case IH tractors to CorningWare bakeware, Birds Eye frozen foods and Mohawk carpeting.

Besides CK and BVK, Chris has also worked with McCann Erickson-Puerto Rico and Bozell Worldwide, including multi-national work for Citibank and Coca-Cola and national work for Mutual of Omaha and American Tool. During his time with Bozell, Chris spent six months working in the company’s Indian headquarters in Bangalore. In addition to working and shooting all over the world, Chris also travels frequently on his own. But at the end of the day, he’s still a midwestern guy at heart.

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