The Case for Creative Work

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“It’s a clever idea, who knows if it actually works.”
“Looks beautiful, but it probably won’t generate any new business.”

These are the kind of comments you hear a lot if you work in advertising or marketing communications: Creativity is not the same as efficacy. Prosaic, fact-based communications do a better job of selling than conceptual, well-designed work.

And it is hard to put a value on creativity—which is why we were delighted to discover a research study commissioned by Thinkbox and IPA, the professional body for advertising and marketing communications agencies in the U.K. The study was conducted by independent consultant Peter Field, who analyzed the correlation between hard business results and award-winning creative work archived by The Gunn Report.

The study, titled “The link between creativity and effectiveness,” found that award-winning creative campaigns were 12 times more efficient at increasing a brand’s market share—at selling stuff—than campaigns whose level of creative work did not merit any recognition.

It’s a surprising number, which suggests that brand differentiation may simply come down to investing in and valuing creativity. While the study was based on TV commercials, we infer that a similar dynamic works with web sites, apps, print collateral, and other marketing communications—well designed, conceptual and interesting ideas will deliver better results than less creative, generic approaches.

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