Think HBR

On why creativity counts

Gerad Petherbrigde
Over the last couple of years the advertising and marketing world appears to have split into two opposing tribes.
We have those who believe what we do is something more akin to art. Gut, instinct, emotion and sheer creativity are what matters. Nostalgically the industry thinks of this camp as the Mad Men. Disparagingly it thinks of them as 80’s dinosaurs.
Then we have the smart, modern, rational, data-driven marketers of today who ‘get it’. Marketing is a science. We can formulate laws and rules through research and Big Data: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”.
These groups are, apparently, at opposite ends of the spectrum of marketing methodology and philosophy. And the verdict, we are told, is in: the Mad Men have made way for the Math Men. After all, you can’t measure “creativity”.
The Mad Men and Math Men don’t get along. You’re either one or the other. And in business today, with shrinking budgets and increased pressure on ROI, you’ve got to be rational to be risk free, right? Creativity is a bit of fun but it doesn’t guarantee results, right?
But we, as an advertising agency, believe whole-heartedly in the importance of putting creativity first.
Are we crazy?
Possibly, but not because of this belief. We just aren’t dogmatic Kool-Aid guzzlers.
Data and research provide knowledge, and that is crucial to getting it right. Yet Einstein tells us “the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”.
The fact remains that the right approach lies somewhere between the two extremes. And it turns out data has some pretty nice things to say about creativity.
Peter Field, independent marketing consultant and co-author of Marketing in the Era of Accountability, ran the numbers on 435 campaigns appearing in both the Gunn Report database of creatively awarded campaigns (the Mad Men bible) and the IPA Effectiveness Databank (the Math Men bible) to examine the link between creativity and effectiveness.
The results:
• Creatively awarded campaigns are 12 times more efficient in driving market share growth
• Creatively awarded campaigns appear to achieve results with greater certainty: they are more reliable investments.
• The greater the level of creativity (measured by the number of major creative award wins) the greater the level of effectivenes
Creative work delivers the best results, so as a full service agency that’s what we do.
The Math Men have a crucial role to play. They give tremendous insight into who we should be targeting and even what we should be putting into the communications.
But as an agency we’re with Bill Bernbach when he said “We are so busy measuring public opinion that we forget we can mold it. We are so busy listening to statistics we forget we can create them.”
For further information contact Enigma on (02) 4925 5107, email or visit
Gerad Petherbridge Gerad Petherbridge
As a planner Gerad Petherbridge has a hard time explaining to his family what he does for a living since there weren’t any planners in Mad Men. He usually ends up saying something about working out what people think and feel about banks, houses or SUVs.