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Affects of Creativity in Advertising 1
Can Creative Marketing take it Too Far?
Affects of Creativity in Advertising
Olivia Dames
University of Mississippi
Dr. Alice Myatt
November 7, 2014
Affects of Creativity in Advertising 2
Abstract
Companies use advertising to increase sales and introduce new ideas. While
marketing these ideas, companies often try to use originality to stand out from their
competitors. The affects of creative advertising on a companies marketing campaign
are either extremely successful or absolute failures. Companies often struggle with
coming up with a fresh idea. They must keep in mind that their advertisements must
come across to their audience in the same way the company wants to portray their
product. After analyzing textual information, including academic journals and video,
it is clear that there is a fine line between successful and unsuccessful creative
advertising. Marketing campaigns that show success usually use methods that
attach to the emotions of the audience. On the other hand, unsuccessful
advertisements are normally too over the top for audiences to understand and
therefore are overlooked.
Affects of Creativity in Advertising 3
Can Creative Marketing take it Too Far?
Affects of Creativity in Advertising
Introduction
The world of advertising and marketing is continuously growing and
evolving to fit what companies think will appeal to their consumers. A trend often
seen in today’s advertising is the use of creative strategies to capture the attention
and receive the business of their audience. There is risk involved in spending
marketing budgets on an original ad campaign, however. Although this strategy has
proven on multiple accounts to be widely successful, it has also proven to be the
downfall for companies who misuse or simply overdo their marketing creativity.
There is a fine line between inventive ideas being understood and being negatively
perceived which has a lot to do with the risks and benefits of innovation and
efficiency, the affects of humor in advertising, and the use of emotional branding.
Naturally, a company that creates a new product or idea is believed to have
an edge over their competitors. Innovation in marketing is used to set companies
apart from what their opponents are all doing. It is important for a company to find
a new approach to marketing because, “brands that are viewed as innovators earn
innovation credit,” and, “innovation credit is a form of brand equity” (Barone 120).
This idea suggests that atypical marketing strategies that move against the norms
make competitors who follow these ideas seem less trustworthy since they were not
the originators of the idea. For example, when thinking about electronic tablets,
Apple’s iPad is the first one that comes to mind. Apple’s initial innovation in creating
the iPad makes their product seem the most legitimate when compared to
Affects of Creativity in Advertising 4
competing tablets. In addition to a company’s innovative skill, their use of creativity
versus efficiency also affects their legitimacy in the eye of the consumer. When an ad
is merely efficient and doesn’t utilize creativity to capture the audiences attention,
according to studies, “our results suggest that what advertisers would consider a
waste of money or effort is viewed positively by consumers, and that consumers
make positive inferences about a brand when they perceive excesses in spending
and effort” (Modig 149). Originality in a companies marketing approach has the
ability to persuade consumers greatly. When most consumers see the effort and
expenses that were likely to go into such a creative idea, they are more likely to be
intrigued by that company than a company whose advertisement showed little to no
signs of exceptional effort. The proven appeal of creative or exciting marketing
shows that, “advertisers should be mindful not only of what they say, but also how
they say it” (Modig 149). Overall, the benefits of innovation and creativity outweigh
the risks and companies who exhibit these characteristics have shown success in
doing so.
Method
The method I used most often in researching the topic of creativity in
advertising was textual analysis of both academic journals and videos. The
background information I acquired came from multiple journals that focused on
marketing and advertising. I then watched an online documentary called The
Persuaders (2004) about how companies use advertising to their advantage or
disadvantage. The video also taught me about the tactics many companies use to
lure in their audience. After watching, I did some further research on two companies
Affects of Creativity in Advertising 5
that were used as examples in the movie. Nike and Song Airlines are the companies I
researched further and found videos on YouTube that gave insight into each of their
marketing strategies and how it affected their overall sales. Once these sources were
found, I was able to watch and replay the videos to take notes of specific examples
that could support my claim.
Results
Today, in the twenty-first century, the marketing world is thriving.
Advertisements can be seen on any surface at any time, so much so that they have
become hard for us to notice in some cases because every ad seems to blend in with
the next. Companies use big advertising because they want to stand out but in order
for them to, “break through the clutter, they simply create more clutter” (The
Persuaders). In previous time periods, advertisements consisted of explaining a
product and how it is better, nicer, cleaner, and smarter, than its competitors. In
today’s society with so many advancements in technology, everything works and
has the potential to be better, nicer, cleaner, and smarter so ads must take a
different approach and companies turn to what is called emotional branding.
Emotional branding is, “an invitation to an identity” that “builds stories and
mystery” to connect with a person’s emotions (The Persuaders). One company who
has done an exceptional job at using emotional branding is Nike. Nike is known as a
trustworthy and popular brand that has, over the years, created a sense of loyalty
with its customers. The company creates ads that tell stories of heroes, but instead
of these heroes fighting external battles, they are fighting an internal battle against
themselves and their own laziness. When someone in a Nike commercial fights the
Affects of Creativity in Advertising 6
internal battle whether or not to get out of bed to run, they “Just Do It.” Nike’s ads
represent what they see in their customers and “tap into universal human feelings”
to make what could just be a commercial into a personal story (Nike Brand
Strategy). This example of emotional branding has been an extreme success for the
Nike brand since they launched their “Just Do It” campaign (Nike Brand Strategy).
On the other hand, some companies that attempt to break through the norms fail in
doing so. Song Airlines, for example, was an up and coming airline with big plans to
become a chic way to travel. When their marketing team got together to launch the
company’s first campaign, they decided to focus on creating a new culture for flying
instead of the airline itself (The Persuaders). Although this idea had potential to be
successful, it was marketed poorly. By trying to stand out from competitors, Song
Airlines’ commercials, “neglected to mention the product’s purpose and thus many
shoppers were confused as to what exactly it was that they were selling” (Vaz). The
airline’s commercials had no mention of planes, airports, airfares, or flying. In trying
to stand out, Song Airlines only confused customers about what their company was
(The Persuaders). The airline closed after only three years and this failed business
is now one example of the fine line between creativity and disarray in marketing.
Song Airlines was overall, “too focused on who they were rather than what they
were selling, and on what the product meant rather than what it actually did” (Vaz).
In order to direct the focus of an ad to what the product means, the product must be
present or known, such as Nike. Overall, emotional branding is a risk that many
companies take that can either be the downfall or peak of their marketing campaign
depending on its approach to both the product and the audience.
Affects of Creativity in Advertising 7
Discussion
Creativity in marketing is all about setting yourself apart from your
competitors. Though there are many ways to achieve this goal, one of the most
successful strategies is the integration of humor into a brand. In order to stand out,
companies must take risks. According to Wang, in the marketing world, “advertiser
creative risk is the advertiser’s willingness to embrace the uncertainty in
performance outcomes associated with unconventional and untried advertising
campaigns” (p. 44). There is obviously uncertainty involved in any attempt at
connecting with an audience’s sense of humor, but when done correctly, this can be
an extremely affective technique. If successful, the presence and strength of humor
in an advertisement sparks memorability in consumers and the use of humor,
“enhances initial attention, aids brand recall, and holds attention and recognition”
(Cline 55). Being able to not only capture an audience’s attention but also hold that
attention is pivotal in the marketing world, and the use of humor often helps ads
achieve that goal. However, it is possible for the jokes of an advertisement to
distract from the product itself, which is what makes the integration of humor into
marketing so difficult. Amidst a funny line or two, advertisers must still make their
product memorable, which based on a study about humor strength and humormessage relatedness on ad memorability, “it appears that strong humor is not its
own virtue; it must be connected to the brand claims to facilitate recall” (Cline 63).
Similar to how a small group of friends may have ‘inside jokes’ in which only they
fully understand, it is possible for companies to have the same affects with their
humorous ads. If the majority of the target audience does not understand the punch
Affects of Creativity in Advertising 8
line, then that company has not only failed in attempted humor, but also in selling
the product at hand. Knowing your target audience and getting an outside opinion
on a seemingly funny, creative idea can help companies avoid the awkward ‘I don’t
get it’ reaction that some consumers may have when seeing or hearing the
advertisement. Simon Knox, author of “Creativity in Marketing Management- A
Unified Approach,” proposes the importance of bringing in outside ideas to the
creative circle suggesting that, “personnel from outside the company can also be
introduced into the group to stimulate the thought process” (Knox 254). I think this
idea is very important in insuring that the audience will understand the humor, the
main point, and of course be able to recall the product or service itself. As
mentioned, the pursuit of creativity in marketing is risky and, “originality is
inherently intertwined with risk and uncertainty, as highly original campaigns may
be poorly perceived or even incite negative market responses” (Wang 42). Not only
is it possible for an audience not to understand the humor of an ad, but they could
also see the message in a different, more negative light. For these reasons, I find it is
important to integrate outside ideas into a marketing plan before releasing it to
consumers. In conclusion, although the risks of using humor and originality in
advertising exist, when performed correctly, the inclusion of humor and creativity in
advertising can be remarkably successful due to it’s ability to capture audiences
attention and aid brand recall.
Creative marketing, because of the risks involved and because of the
potential of such an approach being misunderstood, must be used carefully. The use
of innovation, humor, and emotional branding can be perceived differently than the
Affects of Creativity in Advertising 9
company intended and therefore change the direction of the ad, or the use of these
characteristics could help grasp the attention of the consumer and make the brand
more memorable. Product or service recognition is what advertisements are all
about and that is what will determine the success or failure of a creative marketing
stunt. In the end, the use of creativity in advertising is more successful than
confusing since many companies understand the risks involved and they do their
best to avoid misleading viewers or leading consumers astray.
Affects of Creativity in Advertising 10
References
Barone, M. J., & Jewell, R. D. (2013). The Innovator's License: A Latitude to Deviate
from Category Norms. Journal Of Marketing, 77(1), 120-134.
Cline, T. W., & Kellaris, J. J. (2007). The Influence of Humor Strength and HumorMessage Relatedness on Ad Memorability. Journal Of Advertising, 36(1), 5567.
Knox, S. (1990). Creativity in Marketing Management -- A Unified Approach. Journal
Of Marketing Management, 5(3), 245-257.
Modig, E., Dahlin, M., & Colliander, J. (2014). Consumer-perceived signals of
'creative' versus 'efficient' advertising: Investigating the roles of expense and
effort. International Journal of Advertising, 33(0265-0487), 137-154.
The Persuaders [Motion picture]. (2004). PBS Home Video.
Nike Brand Strategy: Emotional Branding using the Story of Heroism [Motion
picture]. (2013). YouTube.
Vaz, A. (2012, November 20). A Sad Song: The Failure of Song Airlines. Retrieved
October 23, 2014.
Wang, G., Dou, W., Li, H., & Zhou, N. (2013). Advertiser Risk Taking, Campaign
Originality, and Campaign Performance. Journal Of Advertising, 42(1), 42-53.
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