Creativity - Alive and Well and Evolving at Grey
“Change is neither good or bad, it simply is,”
By Paul Jackson – Group Managing Director at Grey Africa. | February 28, 2016
“Change is neither good or bad, it simply is,” according to Don Draper from the highly successful TV show ‘Mad Men’, loosely based on the happenings at Grey New York in the early ‘60s. It was a glorious time when the ad creative was clearly the hero and the big idea moved the markets.
In the current decade, the rather embarrassing conventional wisdom is that creative is a commodity, easily purchased from freelancers found on the web. Myopically modern day marketers are focused more on data and social media and less so on creative. But while data can suggest who to target, or which of two campaigns work better - and social media influences word of mouth - companies still need to couple their products to creativity if they want to break through the noise and clutter of the marketplace - QED.
That’s why creativity, best described as intelligence having fun, will always be the foundation of all successful marketing, and opposed to the nemesis of great creativity, the mediocre gunk which is perceived to be “good”.
“Traditionally Volvo was an established car brand recognised as being a well-built and ‘safe’ mode of transport,” says Paul Jackson, MD of Grey Africa. “It had become undistinguished and uninspiring, merging into a cluttered background of an expanding myriad of car brands that were consistently improving. Then Grey came along with a simple but significant creative idea that brought to life the modern-day meaning of safety coupled with stylish elegance, which started as an ad, then went viral on YouTube, garnering a host of global awards in the process. The rest is history. (If you’ve missed these great ads, check them out.) Yes, it was passed along via social media. Yes, the agency probably did data mining to figure out which concepts to promote to whom. Having said that, this is only one of many new present-day creative concepts that have made Grey a global leader in new style creative thinking. Why? Because it’s right on the button, appealing to people who can relate and interact with brand concepts that are not only evocative but meaningful.”
So following the logic that if things don’t go right then it’s time we went left, the question to ask is: how does an agency evaluate an exceptional creative idea?
Here are five MAD rules of thumb to help figure out if a creative concept is going to move the needle.
1. “I smell Creativity” The need for a well-crafted, succinct creative brief to ignite that creative spark and that articulates the goals, messages and audience - for an ad is the very source of most great ideas. And it’s what we’ll use to judge the success of any concept.
2. "Make it short, but significant" We only have one life so it might as well be significant. So let’s create great ads that make you stop and feel a little (or a lot) nervous. Like exercise does more for you when you sweat, so do ads: You can’t get noticed unless you do something different. And different is risky. But it’s even riskier not to be different. The first rule of advertising is that it has to be seen and noticed — it must break through the thousands of messages consumers receive each day.
3. “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation!” The best marketing campaigns are not complicated - they’re simple like Nike’s eloquent; “Just do it” campaign. In short, alter the cluttered current reality and focus on the one brutally simple and effective idea. Remember, hodgepodge collages do not a concept make. Less is far more in tomorrow’s chaotic world of ads and essential if you want to successfully interact with your audience.
4. “You want some respect? Go out there and get it for yourself!” Admiration and appreciation is earned and brand image ads need respect to motivate response behaviour; it needs to move people to generate action? Actions and engagement are the very currency of our times, and people are more likely to remember client’s products if a campaign stirs the senses and stimulates the impulse to react and buy.
5. “Stop being demure. You’re already on the bed!” Admit it, if a concept doesn’t seduce the customer and pose your client’s product as being uniquely different, its market appeal will be limp, and these days it might as well be comatose. Great creative is not the by-product of unimaginative fuzzy groups, committees or bulk data. It takes creative minds to come up with ideas that shatter the mould and penetrate the mind.
So looking back from the vantage point of the future it’s evident that the old rules have departed. I see change as the only certainty to remain relevant and we all have to embrace change; as individuals, as a team and as a business to get things done!
From now on we move from telling to sharing conversations, going beyond voicing self-serving solutions, to sharing memorable experiences. It’s an entirely different way of explaining life. It’s verbal, it’s visual and it’s about benefits delivered and transforming experiences gained. It’s about bringing people together and recounting stories that are relevant! It’s the Uberisation of everything. It’s not about products, it’s experiences magnified. It’s about service, benefits and pleasures gained. It’s about delivering so effectively that “I Want More!” is the consumer’s insatiable response.
“In future the one thing to remember is that advertising, as in any form of art, is very personal,” says Jackson. “Because of people’s ability to access and experience instant exposure to anything today, our agency understands that it’s a new business that needs a new cast of driven characters. It’s all about talent that can leap-frog across an ever changing landscape and constantly bring Wow.coms to a finishing point that’s motivatingly unique – if it’s not going to make a difference, why bother starting the journey?”
In closing Jackson adds: “This year we needed to grasp the initiative, we had to change before we had to by seeing what our changed tomorrow could look. After 100 years Grey stands by its philosophy of being ‘Famously Effective’, focusing all our energy on building on the new, being creative in all that we do, dreaming dreams and turning them into reality.”