What’s the Value of Creative Advertising?
If you’re a fan of “Madmen” then you know just how big a pain in the butt Don Draper can be. Yet, despite all his character flaws, he is valued, if not respected, by most of the people in his industry (at least in the show). You see, Don is a “creative” copywriter. He doesn’t just write an ad that tells you a watch is accurate (like the guy he has to report to), he makes you care about accurate time keeping and then he makes you crave to experience it for yourself.
Why does this matter? Read on.
The purpose of advertising – indeed, any form of marketing communication – is to sell something. A product, a service, an idea or the choice of one brand over another. So no matter how creative an ad is, if it doesn’t do one of these things, it isn’t fulfilling its primary function. But how do you convince consumers to buy, choose or change their minds?
First, you have to get their attention.
No one, not even my mother, wants to read, watch or listen to advertising. Ads are things people avoid. (Hence the invention of TiVo.) But the fact is, people look at ads all the time. They not only look at them – they think about them, talk about them, dream about them – and remember the companies that produce them.
Here’s just one example – the United Colors of Benetton
Benetton is a European clothing manufacturer that is famous (some would say infamous) for running controversial ads that have nothing to do with the fit, style or quality of the clothes that are their primary products. Is this a good thing? Well, it’s made the Benetton brand known around the world. So when someone is shopping and sees something with the Benetton label they’ll probably register it’s a manufacturer they’ve heard of. Even if consumers don’t remember exactly why a brand is familiar, the fact that they’ve heard of it will work in its favor. So yes, Benetton’s sometimes outrageous images do help its profit margin.
Once you get consumers to look, you have to convince them to make a decision.
That decision may be to purchase a product, hire a service or regard one brand as somehow superior to others in the marketplace. Okay. This is easy enough to do right? Just gather all the facts you can to make your client’s case and present this information in a clear, concise, easy to understand way. Any intelligent, rational person who uses the left side of their brain will see immediately why they should buy your client’s car, can opener, cleaning service, canvas awning, candidate, etc. etc. etc. There’s only one problem with this assumption – it’s wrong.
Here’s why. Decisions – ALL decisions – are made on the RIGHT side of the brain.
This is the side that rules our emotions not our intellect. And, as luck and nature would have it, the right side of our brain is where all the decisions that enable us to act are made. That’s why someone who has sustained a brain injury on the right side and can think perfectly logically is still unable to do anything based on that logic.
And that’s why creativity in advertising makes a difference.
Advertising creates a bridge between the brain’s emotional and rational sides. Built of creative concepts, it enables customers to justify emotional decisions made by their subconscious with logical arguments understood by their brains’ rational side. Want an example?
Think car insurance.
What does a Gecko and a girl dressed in white have to do with car insurance? A lot. Both Geico and Progressive car insurance advertise that they offer lower rates than their competition. But each of these companies makes the argument for this mutual benefit in commercials that feature characters that appeal to our imagination and emotions rather than our intellect.
Geico has used cavemen, men made of money and talking pigs as well as dancing geckos to tell us that we can save money on Geico insurance for vehicles. In doing so, they’ve suggested that the Geico Company is altruistic, easy to deal with and committed to making our life less complicated.
Progressive, on the other hand, presents us with an alternative universe revolving around an ordinary yet charming young woman who can “empower” us to save on our insurance choices. She’s every man’s fantasy girl-next-door, wife, mother and mistress. Every woman identifies with her wit, smarts and seemingly unconscious power over the men she meets. Clearly, the perfect person to sell us products designed to protect us from life’s catastrophes.
Creativity gives advertising its power. Without it – you have a sales sheet not an ad.
Understand please, we’re not knocking sales sheets. But a sales sheet is usually presented to customers who are already considering buying your product and want to see specific details. Advertising, on the other hand, gets people in the door. Hopefully, you can see the value this might have for your product, service, company and bottom line.