Creativity: The Holy Grail

Creativity is the “X Factor” in marketing. It’s what separates genius from the merely mediocre or even the downright dismal and poor.

Is there an agency out there that doesn’t claim to be creative? Admitting you’re not creative is like admitting you’re a bad driver – you will never hear it said.

Getting to a definition is the easy part.

Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns and relationships and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods and interpretations, through originality, progressiveness, or imagination.


If you think about the extraordinary, constant and ever-increasing barrage of messages we’re subjected to, achieving cut-through is becoming tougher by the day. And this is equally the case for consumer and B2B audiences.

The challenge is in pinning down what’s creative and what’s mundane. What will cut through to drive response and what will be budget-wasting wallpaper.

Creativity is a very abstract concept and involves a large element of subjectivity. You can show one piece of work to two experienced marketers and there’s every chance one will hail it for its creativity while the other will dismiss it as unoriginal and dull.

For agencies, a huge degree of vanity surrounds creativity because it’s probably the most important criterion on which our work is judged. Whether by clients reviewing pitch proposals, or campaigns vying for coveted industry awards, creativity and originality will always stand out and attract the eye. So creativity will help agencies win business but is there any more to it than that? Is there a provable link between creativity and campaign effectiveness?


Previous IPA studies have analysed hundreds of award winning (creative) campaigns and compared their effectiveness with non-award winning campaigns. Reassuringly for those of us constantly looking for new ideas, there is a definite correlation. The most awarded campaigns are also likely to deliver the strongest hard business results.

A key finding from the IPA’s 2011 report – which evaluated 16 years of campaigns – was that creatively-awarded campaigns were 7 times more efficient than non-awarded ones in terms of the level of market share growth they delivered.

And intriguingly, there is also a time trend. Creatively-awarded campaigns are becoming more effective over time, whilst non-awarded ones are becoming less so. Over the second half of the 16 year research period, creatively-awarded campaigns were 12 times as efficient as non-awarded ones compared to only 3 times as efficient during the first half.


In a previous blog post we spoke about how the most effective campaigns were those that integrate 2 or more channels and that the most potent of all are those that mix Advertising with Sales Promotion or DM. If you take this insight and link it to the certain knowledge that creativity drives effectiveness, the ultimate campaigns have to be highly creative integrated campaigns.


So what better place to come to than Oakbase – a genuinely creative, integrated marketing agency, obsessed by delivering results?!