Creativity is doing a comeback

Joao Rei

The field of Advertising has always had periods where Mad Men were calling the shots, and then periods when Math Men were in charge. In a world inundated by programmatic ad buying, and automated processes for ad creation and distribution, it will be up for creatives to carve out opportunities for bold brands to differentiate themselves. 

In the 1950’s we were going through the golden age of advertising for Mad Men. The crazy creative executives who were coming up with some of the most daring and iconic campaigns we have seen. They were given almost free reign, largely because it was quite hard to measure the results of their work. 

Then in came analysis and data.  

Of course you can’t ignore the data and the information you get from looking at the results of successive campaigns. And it would be foolish to rely solely on the input of some crazy creative with no basis other than his own gut feeling. Research on the market and looking at past behavior might still be the best chance we have at getting it right. But the market is also changing at an ever faster pace. And looking back is not a good way of predicting the future. What worked last year, might not work this year. 

Too many marketing budgets are still done by looking at last year’s marketing budget and copy pasting the rows on an excel sheet with a few small modifications. This is marketing by excel. 

This strategy isn't working anymore. The market is changing faster than ever. Consumers are more aware, more informed, and demanding more from brands. Technology changes fast, perhaps faster than we as marketers can adjust to. Google search, SEO, SEM, adwords, facebook, instagram, social media, programmatic, RTB, etc… all of those are essential tools to reach your audiences in the most cost effective way. But it’s 2018, everyone is already using programmatic, and the ones who aren’t will soon join the ranks.  

Numbers vs creativity 

My view is that after years of pushing for data driven analysis and decision making, the mad men are making a comeback, and creativity is ready for a revival. In this day and age, when programmatic ad buying is everywhere, and where you just buy audiences and reach, and everyone has access to the same tools, then the media business has become commoditized. Nearly eight in 10 mobile display ads in the U.S. are purchased programmatically, which will increase to around 85 percent by 2019, according to eMarketer.  

The only key to survival is creativity as a differentiator. 

Your visuals, your message, your storytelling, can make or brake a campaign. They should not be overlooked, they should be the core. For years, the approach to integrated campaigns has been that you select the audience for your product and based on that you decide on a media plan, and then after the media plan is figured out you come out with the ads to fit into that media plan. 

It’s time to get the pendulum swinging back in the direction of creativity. Design and words matter. They have done so throughout all of human history. They won’t go away any time soon. Embrace creativity and let it lead the way. The best outcome is created by a solid team with well rounded individuals. A sort of renaissance men (or women) dream team, with creatives, analytical people all working side by side. And that is exactly what we are building in IDEA. 

Joao Rei

Head of Digital innovation
Idea