Overcoming the barriers to creativity


Client-side marketers recognise the power of creativity to deliver more effective marketing, but many find things get in the way of that, including risk-averse cultures, a short-term-focus and a plethora of decision makers.

That’s according to new research* from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) which reveals a huge disconnect among those client-side marketers who recognise creativity as a marketing ‘super-power’ (82%) and the much smaller number who regard it as business critical (28%).

Comms assessment 

Self-evaluation of their communications ( 640 senior client-side marketers in 34 different markets) revealed that: 

  • 8% saw them being ‘iconic and a cultural talking point’ 
  • 22% saw them as ‘compelling and contagious’
  • 42%, saw them in the middle of the scale as ‘original and impactful’
  • 27% saw them as ‘practical and promotional’
  • 1% identified their comms as ‘wasteful and confused’. 

The barriers to creativity 

  • Risk-averse culture (cited by 51% of respondents)
  • Short-term-focus (48%)
  • Having too many decision makers (44%)
  • Reductions in budgets (40%)
  • Talent shortage within the organisation (23%)
  • Over-emphasis on data and analytics (21%),
  • Investment shifting towards digital channels (17%)
  • Ever-more tightly defined audiences (9%). 

Seven ways to boost creative performance

  1. Better briefing. A good brief doesn’t need to be long but it does need to be well thought through and written in the context of trust and transparency between client and collaborators.
  2. Park discomfort. Does the work deliver against the brief provided? Will it connect with consumers and encourage them to act even though the execution may be pushing your comfort levels? 
  3. Strong culture, better capabilities. Improving core capabilities in briefing and creative evaluation means that results will be quickly realised.
  4. Think brand value. CMOs have a duty of care over the brand they are overseeing. KPIs should monitor not only short-term activities but long-term brand perceptions..
  5. Alignment can be the death of creativity. Over layering in decision making slows outputs and waters down their differentiation. Put a simplified RACI in place within your teams and be clear who the ultimate decision maker is.
  6. Don’t dismiss awards. Evidence suggests highly awarded creative outperforms as a driver of growth. 
  7. Better client, better work. Agencies are not ‘suppliers’ – they’re vital partners that enhance your marketing mix. Strive to be the brand that creatives fight to work on.

*Clients and Creativity, produced in collaboration with Contagious and The Observatory International, focuses specifically on clients’ roles and the part they can play in tackling the decline of creativity in marketing and advertising.

This article first appeared in www.warc.com

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