Yep, you heard it here first! Creative ads actually outperform boring, unimaginative ads


Paul Dyson at Data2Decisions has been modeling the impact of advertising for more than 20 years. His qualitative market research proves what creative professionals have been saying all along.

According to Dyson’s data, two most important factors that drive advertising campaign success are:

1. The size of your brand when you start your campaign. (The fact is, big brands with big market share see bigger results from their campaigns across the board.)

2. Creativity.

So if you don’t have a leading Fortune 500 brand, you better start paying more attention to the creative side of the equation.

Ever since Bill Bernbach put art directors and copywriters in the same room together back in the late 1950’s, creativity has been the single biggest selling point for ad agencies. That creative collaboration was designed to produce big impact from small budgets. The smaller the brand, the more important creativity becomes.

Unfortunately, there are thousands of tech-driven digital agencies that have forgotten how that’s supposed to work.

In the race to “scale up and sell out” they toss original, creative thinking out the window. The minute they see one Facebook ad that produces a little more than the industry standard click-through rate they jump onto it like a bunch of clinging lemurs. Duplicating campaigns, following templates, and plagiarizing their own copy from one client to another is, unfortunately, S. O. P. these days.

What does that mean for clients? Your ads will look just like all the other ads from that agency and from your competitors. So you might see a decent short-term lift, but you’re sacrificing differentiation and long-term brand building.

Marketing professor Mark Ritson, who writes for Marketing Week magazine and is a go-to consultant on marketing effectiveness, says “I’ve seen it hundreds of times, and I cannot stand seeing how much money companies lose with that bullshit focus on short-term ROI.”

You can’t invest your entire marketing budget in short term activation “strategies.” There still needs to be a balance of long-term brand building plus short-term activations or promotions. Brand building has to be always on and built-in to every marketing tactic.

A consistent creative thread that is uniquely yours should run through all your outward facing marketing efforts. Long-term or short-term.

So, yeah… If you want to tap the power of creativity you need an idea, not just an ad.

Creative, impactful selling ideas carry over from one tactic to another. They transcend media outlets and market trends. They can be executed in a myriad of ways, from simple social media posts or outdoor boards to long format video and everything in between.

And guess what… The most effective ideas come from solid strategic thinking. So some of the blame for boring, off-the-mark advertising sits with the clients. If you don’t have your strategic shit together it’ll be very hard for any agency to come up with a truly creative campaign that moves the needle in the long run.

Let me give you one simple little example of what “creativity” looks like, even in a category that’s usually not very creative.

I had an assignment last summer to do a recruitment ad for a long-time client. Seems like every company is hurting for help these days, and they all run recruitment ads that say the same stupid thing: “We’re hiring.”

That’s it.

That’s not a headline, it’s a sign on the door. That’s not “creative,” even when they throw-in a stock image of some happy-go-lucky looking person who’s supposed to represent the reader as a future employee. But that’s what digital agencies run every day for thousands of clients. Just change out the logos from one client to another.

Instead, we ran this:

Does this ad really need dissecting?

It’s instantly emotional. It’s a creative combination of words and imagery. It uses a pop culture reference. It’s on brand for this pediatric practice. The headline doesn’t work without the right photo; The reader has to put the two together, and they’re glad to because it’s a feel-good ad.

When you run a campaign like this you get an effective recruitment ad AND great branding. It’s a creative one-two punch you seldom see anymore.

Shouldn’t your ads be more like these? Call me and I’ll show you how to employ creativity in everything you do


Seeking to build and grow your brand using the force of consumer insight, strategic foresight, creative disruption and technology prowess? Talk to us at +971 50 6254340 or or visit

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