A few words about creative strategy
It seems to be in the nature of creative people to chafe at those little pieces of paper entitled "Creative Strategy."
To watch a lot of creative people react, you'd think those documents were really headed, "Arsenic. Take full strength. Do not dilute."
There is, to be sure, some reason for this revulsion. It is not unheard of for writers and art directors to be asked to execute something that should really be called an "un creative strategy."
The authors of these papers have been known to be neither creative nor strategic in their thinking and to mask a certified non-idea behind formularized words. If you execute such a non-idea, what you are bound to have is a noncompelling advertisement. No matter how cleverly you write and visualize.
Basic truth, you folks: the highest form of creativity in advertising is the setting of real creative strategies.
We must never forget it.
It's what buid this business.
It's where your future and my future lie.
It's where at least half the joy in our business is found.
It's also where the hardest work is found, I'll admit. But don't forget, you always love hard work.
If you're still with me, I'd like to tell you what a real creative strategy is.
But first, I'll suggest to you some of the things it is not. .
It Is not just a sentence that says, "The advertising will convince people that our product is the (tastiest) (freshest) (mildest) (hardest-working) (classiest) (fastest) product in the store.
It is not the product of logic and analysis alonealthough they're part of how you get there. It is not the province of the client or the account manalthough they should be heavily involved.
It is not a jail for creative execution. Rather, if you've got a real creative strategy, it will inspire you to write and visualize at the height of your powers.
It is not aimed at robots but at human beings with hearts and guts as well as brains.
The last sentence is the crux of the matter.
The real creative strategy is the one that relates product to yearnings. Formula to life style.
If you can look at a thinner cigarette and see not only as a special cigarette for women but also as a symbol of equality for women, you can create real creative strategies.
If you can look at a bar of soap with pumice in it and see not only an efficient hand washer but also the solution to the problem of "Public Dirt," you can create real creative strategies.
If you can look at a glass of chokolate milk and see it not as just a yummy thirst-quencher or a hunger fighter but as a cure to kids whimsicalities, you can create real creative strategies.
In all truth, the process that leads to real creative strategies is the process that leads to inventions.
It involves the seeing of old facts in new relationships.
It involves the discovery of needs and wants in people that even the people may not have discovered in themselves. (Hardly anyone knew he needed a telephone until A. G. Bell came along.)
It also involves hard work. As I said before.
When you have a creative strategy problem on your plate, you are confronted by a need to know everything you can get your hands on. About the product itself. About competitive products. About the market: its habits, its attitudes, its demographics. About the advertising history of the category.
You need to study all the research you can get your hands on.
You need to ask questions until people hate to see you.
You need, in short, to dig, dig, dig.
The dismal truth is that your chances of finding a compelling creative strategy are in direct proportion to how much information you stuff your head with.
If you are working on a new coffee, say, you will wind up knowing more about coffee than you ever thought you wanted to know.
There is a very good reason why you must do this human sponge act if you are to invent real creative strategies.
Your subconscious mindwhere a very important part of the invention process goes onneeds a richly-stocked data bank to do its best work.
The job of your subconscious is to review and re-review everything you know about a subject. It searches, even during your sleep, for new relationships between people and products; searches, as I suggested earlier, for new combinations of old Ideas; searches for the new insight that can give even a very old product the right to ask for new attention in the market.
If you stint your subconscious on the input side, it will surely stint you on the output.
Creative strategy goes around in the world under several pseudonyms: basic concept, basic selling idea, product positioning, basic selling proposition.
But whatever the name, the purpose of real creative strategizing is simple and vital: the invention of a big idea.
I said earlier that this kind of creative strategy work is the highest form of creativity in advertising.
I believe it wholeheartedly. I also believe wholeheartedly in the power of brilliant execution.
What I believe in most of all is the synergism you create when you couple a big idea with brilliant words and pictures.
When you can do that regularly, you can't help getting rich and famous. Not to mention happy in your work.
Responsibility for developing objectives and strategy lies at the agency, but before execution can be initiated there must be approval from the client. The statement of objectives and strategies should be complete but concise and should show justifications for decisions that emerge from the situation analysis.
Tightly defined strategies also give freedom to copywriters because they know that their work should be judged solely against these preexisting guidelines. This direction should, therefore, be cherished. From another perspective, Norman Berry of Oglivy & Mather says "There is nothing, in my view, so stupid, or so wasteful of time, talent and money, as to produce a whole lot of work saying one thing brilliantly, when in fact one should have been saying something else in the first place."
To set accurate message objectives, a quick revue of relevant issues will be useful.
In terms of target market:
- Describe the audience as precisely as possible in relation to demographics, geographics and psychographics
- What the problem that the brand will solve. for consumers.
In terms of the task:
- Describe the task in terms of the stage of the hierarchy of effects.
- Describe the task in terms of audience involved.
- Describe the task in terms of the brands benefits.
- Describe the task in relation to the competition.
- Describe the desired tone of advertising
Some final thoughts about the message strategy
The statement of message tasks must cover four specific areas:
- Whom to sell
- What to sell
- Support of selling idea
- Tone of selling idea
For a message to be effective in accomplishing its tasks it must be:
- Attention getting.. It must attract and hold the receiver.
- Understandable. It must use symbols that are common to both the sender and the receiver.
- Relevant. It must arouse basic needs and suggest the way to satisfy them.
- Acceptable. It must suggest the solution that is compatible with the receiver.
In developing objectives and tasks, the manager must develop a coordinated campaign, not just one or a series of messages. There must ultimately be continuity across all messages so that consumers can learn more easily.
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