Are we entering the age of no risk creativity?

It’s long been true that you only have to switch on the TV or glance up at a busside to see examples of creative ideas that really do not work at all well. One of the frustrations for some people in working on the media side of things is that they might put together a cleverly crafted media strategy based on a brilliant consumer insight but it will come to nothing in the end because the creative execution doesn’t deliver. I’m sure we can all think of a personal example and I bet if you look out of your window now, or flick open a magazine, you’ll see one right this minute.

Sometimes this happens because the communications strategy isn’t joined up properly. Sometimes a short termism on the part of one of the agencies will get in the way of the right advice (it’s been known to happen). Sometimes creative agencies will blame clients for not being “brave” enough.

But new developments in the area of what is known as “Real Time” thinking and planning will make the need for bravery redundant.

Instead of creative content being based on an annual consumer insight trawl and a development process that will last for months we’re changing to an industry where things happen faster and more flexibly.

Consumer insight is collected immediately from conversations and stories on the world wide web. Twitter Stream graphs can drive up to the minute relevance (

But the biggest change lies in the approach to creative production. For some categories of product, especially those which can be purchased via ecommerce, a string of creative executions can be developed which can optimise return on investment to an unprecedented level.
New online technology allows you to amend creative executions via text feeds. One of our clients has increased the number of executions five-fold for one campaign and at the same time saved 80% in production costs.

It will be a while before this approach permeates some categories of advertising. And older and web/mobile rejectors won’t take much notice of all of this. But for some early adopter brands now and thereafter more mainstream brands there will be a step change because the new approach will work better to sell stuff.

The new executions can target and retarget the consumers who have shown an interest in the product based on how and why they’ve dropped out of the purchase funnel.

Some see this as an augur of the dystopian world of the Tom Cruise movie Minority Reports. Others worry that consumers will just become better and better at screening things.

It is need not be a sign of either of these things. It can be the advent of a world of better effectiveness and less wastage. A world where if a brand talks to a consumer he or she will feel that they’re being targeted for a relevant reason, and will welcome the approach.

We will rip up the old rules of communications.

We will see a time when the idea that you would spend £1m on the production of one creative execution seems as anachronistic as selling snake oil in the town square.

More executions and a more flexible approach means clients won’t need to be brave about creative decisions because if the initial execution doesn’t work other versions can be tried. The creative work won’t be set in stone, it will be a dynamic, living idea, a product of both the creative originators and the consumer as the campaign unfolds.

We’re seeing the future, it is of multiple adaptable copy and it works.

One Response to “Are we entering the age of no risk creativity?”

  1. Sam Learmonth says:

    We’re not in Kansas anymore…
    We’ve steered into the dark waters of what makes good creative. As the Creative Director of the Creative Agency offshoot of a Media Agency I find myself in a strange place. You know those bizarre nature tales where a wolf has been brought up goats – Where the wolf acts like a goat, thinks like a goat, is socialised like a goat, but deep down still is a wolf living a goats life.
    It’s a bit like that.
    I know that ads have to be effective, that the creative has to be the servant of a higher responsibility of ROI than serving the ends of creativity for it’s own sake. But I also have a sympathy with the idea that to produce good creative there needs to be freedom alongside the process. That the process isn’t completely quantifiable, as it needs an element of randomness, of rebellious neverdonebeforeness to stand out.

    The bizarre thing is that everyone’s pretty much in accord with what is notable advertising (there is less consensus of course on which ads we all like). However, although notable ads are easy to recognise, their rarity is a mystery. Are all creatives idiots? Are they no longer able to do their jobs? If it was all about them bringing their own agenda to the table and disregarding the clients wishes, wouldn’t ads be the most amazing, entertaining, stimulating part of the tv experience rather than the pretty shouty yawnfest it generally seems at the moment?
    Homer Simpson once said “if you don’t watch tv it’s like you’re stealing tv”. But that’s what people are doing everywhere and it’s a problem. I can’t be the only one who flashes through the ads at x32 speed to shout at every 8th ad “Hang-on! Rewind! I wanna see that one! …Ok, I’ve seen it, commence with the rush through.”

    I have thought for quite a few years the inevitable course of ads will be that the big advertisers will unite their whole global budget for an initial expensive eyegrabber and then have multiple, local, bespoke modular clip on bits at the end. So we watch on Sky or Virgin we’ll all be served a Santander ad with an expensive bit of ad flashiness at the start then it’ll go into a pension message for me, loan offerings for him and a mortgage deal for them.

    The real challenge will be how to make these two parts relevant, interesting and seamlessly joined…