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Creativity Can Be Measured After All
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Advertising, in the age of information, has had a tough time against the commercial technocrats and ROI-hunters.

Instead of seeing advertising as a means to an end, they try to cut around it. Our industry's entreaties for using advertising often goes unheard, or faces arguments about value, return-on-investment, and the like.

Awareness and brand creation simply doesn't cut it anymore. Creativity needs numbers.

Our colleagues are often hesitant to provide numbers, and rightfully so; sometimes the numbers simply do not give the activity justice. We too can argue that sometimes it is simply better to do something than nothing at all. Consumers, whether they would admit it or not, would rather see a brand try to get their attention than otherwise. So of course, we advise to take the bite — we try to be as creative as we can to get the attention of the distracted consumer. 

But how can we show that creativity helps improve the numbers?

Professionals from the University of Cologne (Germany) conducted a study that looked at this very topic. Using a methodology created at Indiana University in 2007, paired with the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT), they analyzed hundreds of ad campaigns and looked at the result of the market. To even things out, they used a control for the spending of each brand.

The result? The research suggested that for every 1% increase in ad spend there was typically a 0.2% increase in purchases. For the more creative ads, the research suggested that the increase in purchases was closer to 0.3%.

The difference may seem small, but in large campaign operations, that difference can be significant.

As AdLand residents, we all know the importance of creative campaigns. Creativity captures attention. Creativity unclutters the marketplace. At least now there is proof that creative campaigns are more effective.

What does that mean?

It means that for those marketing managers or C-Suite executives who want to cost-cut advertising and implement your run-of-the-mill campaigns, we can tell them — using numbers — that it is a better bang for the buck to spend while making sure the advertising is creative. We need to be able to speak their language, and this is a great way to start.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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