Masterclass Notes: Evaluating creative against strategy
by Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) Andy Rice, working mainly as an independent consultant and speaker now but still chairman of strategy company Yellowwood, delivered the fifth of our Marketers’ Masterclasses, covering (by request) how to evaluate creative against strategy.
We prefaced the class by saying that, of course, if the strategy is not well-thought-through, then it doesn’t matter how good the creative work might be — if it’s not relevant or cannot meet the brief, then it’s been a waste of time.
Rice gave some excellent pointers amid many examples of creative work in terms of advertising evaluation models:
- Visibility — will the creative solution be visible? Is it an idea that will translate well into the various media types? With so much advertising being relatively invisible, he recommended that marketers seek out campaign solutions that are highly visible. Consumers are less and less inclined to notice advertising among the clutter of multiple channels, cluttered outdoor or retail environments, etc. Therefore key is visibility, which may be achieved through disruption and dramatisation.
- Clarity — is the message clear? Is the communication really getting the main message across? Rice commented upon the use of research in this area and how this may aid or hinder the creative idea. So can the idea be tested for clarity without it interfering with the overall idea and perhaps weakening it? And clarity is about simplicity — simplifying the message so that consumers may receive it easily.
- Engagement — does the idea and creative expression engage with the consumer or target audience? How is it meant to engage them? Is this clear from the brief? Marketers were shown various campaign examples from all over the world where campaigns have engaged the consumer, and why they did so. What was interesting here is that, although many of these campaigns were award-winning, Rice did not focus upon those awards — only upon the level of engagement which was proved through the later success of those campaigns with the consumer. He believes that marketers should tackle the target audience with something they feel passionate about in order to engage them.
- Single-mindedness — is the campaign idea single-minded? Marketers need to be careful when briefing in campaigns that they are clear on the main message that has to be achieved. Too many objectives will result in a multilayered piece of communication which might completely miss the board when it comes to communication.
- Bravery — is the idea going to be brave enough to enable the brand or service to stand out from the clutter of the particular category? Is it game-changing? Brave campaigns have stand out value and last longer in the minds of consumers.
Marketers were then intrigued to hear more about big data. Rice made the point that big data is not going to create a big idea. It might be useful in terms of fine-tuning target audiences, gauging success measurements or amplifying a great campaign,but only if it is used properly.
We heard about “infobesity” — too much big data. What holds marketers back is infobestity: “[M]arketers use research like a drunk uses a lamp post — as a support and not for illumination.”
And a possible solution? “Mathemagicians”, a great word to describe what modern ad agency creatives and strategists have to be.
Rice encouraged marketers to believe that “nothing will stop a big idea”, saying that a “Mike Tyson” type should be at the helm of the marketing department in order to ensure that a big idea goes through to implementation.
Johanna McDowell (@jomcdowell) is managing director of the Independent Agency Search and Selection Company (IAS), and she is one of the few experts driving this mediation and advisory service in SA and globally. Currently she is running the IAS Marketers Masterclass, a programme consisting of masterclasses held in Cape Town and in Johannesburg. Twice a year she attends AdForum Worldwide Summits.
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