Creativity is at the heart of communication

Marit Høvik Hartmann Managing partner i Geelmuyden Kiese Norge

At GK we are up against the best when we leave for London 26th November with 16 nominations in the Content Marketing Awards. Creativity moves power, both for commercial and public actors, and generates results for the net income. What is the recipe?

Already in 2007 Peter Field and Les Binet in IPA (the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) identified the connection between marketing and increased revenue with their report “Marketing in the Era of Accountability”. The knowledge about what impacts a company’s net income (and not) as a consequence of marketing, became available for us all.

Follow the money was an obvious piece of advice at that time. Focus on short-term attitudes and behavioural goals often yields little financial gain. It was irrefutably documented that it is more profitable to run long-term branding than short-term sales advertising.

Nevertheless, many Norwegian marketers pursue increasingly narrower audiences, tactical sales campaigns and simpler “buy now” messages in a battle for market shares and customersthey cannot win in the long run. Success is measured in digital presence and the value of the brand decreases.

The power of creativity

In subsequent years, IPA and others made us even wiser by proving the power of creativity (the link between creativity and effectiveness). IPA has shown that campaigns that win creative awards are six times as effective as those campaigns that are not awarded. This means that one can expect six times higher growth in creative advertising market share, which is compared to non-premium advertising. Norwegian campaigns were also analysed by Publicis Groupe and ANFO, with the book “The Power of One”.

It is creativity that has made the allegedly ‘lost generation’ of young video games enthusiasts to apply for jobs with companies they did not know existed: Manpower (Put Gaming Experience on your CV). It is creativity that helped Bufdir get their message through to young people with the campaign #ikkegreit (not OK) to prevent online hate speech. Our brains are put together so that we better remember those things that make us feel. Strong brands activate areas of the brain associated to positive feelings, identity and rewards. This does not sit in the thumb.  

The price of the short term

In his latest report from June 2019, The Crisis in Creative Effectiveness, Peter Field points out that the link between creative premiums and impact may be broken, and that this is part of a general crisis as a result of short-term marketing. When the world is full of short-term tactical campaigns, the impact becomes weaker and weaker. When the short-term campaigns are awarded for creativity, the link to the company’s bottom line is broken.

But Peter Field points in this latest report to what the best companies have in common: they use 76 % of their marketing budgets on branding, they use media with a large reach, more often they have growth in market share as a target, whilst others have sales activation as a goal. On average, they are five times stronger in increasing their market share, and have twice the ability to lower their price sensitivity.  

Opinions have to be built in open rooms

In GK we experience every day that the words of British Journalist Ian Leslie hold water: messages can be microtargeted, but meaning has to be mass produced. In order to increase a company’s reputation and competitiveness, marketing cannot simply live in digital caves. It needs to be in open channels too, and become a part of society’s agenda.  

Corporate social responsibility has now become a vital part of branding. What you do is as important as what you say. But marketing must be equally responsible. You have to tell the outside world about the social responsibility that you take, and this is where creativity is needed. Not to green-wash, or to deceive, but to penetrate through all the noise with an important message, such as Q-meierene did, when they made us realize Norwegians are frightened by the “best before”label on milk cartons. Companies that work strategically with creative and socially responsible mass communication will not only survive; they will bypass their competitors.

In summary, if you want to improve the net income:

  • Long-term thinking trumps short-term
  • Branding is more important that sales activities
  • Creativity trumps toothless communication

We don’t know whether we will win gold in London yet but nevertheless, we would like to thank all of our customers for their courage to develop communication that makes a difference.

Advertising is only expensive when it doesn’t work.

Marit Høvik Hartman / COO in Geelmuyden Kiese Norway