“British advertising used to be the best in the world - the most creative and exciting. However it now stands accused of being flat, dull and ordinary. It’s not creative anymore because the creatives are no longer sure what their job is.”
With this bold statement began one of the highlights of AdWeek Europe, the Spotlight Lecture in Predatory Thinking with industry luminary Dave Trott.
Dave argued that advertising has become so complex that creative thinking has been lost in a sea of buzz words; advertisers are focused on deciphering terms such as ‘native advertising’, ‘content curation’ and ‘ideation’ and have lost sight of what it means to be truly creative.
The business impact of this missing creative spark is astronomical - 89 per cent of advertising in the UK is NOT noticed by consumers. That’s £17billion of advertising spend that’s failing to make any impact.
And while Dave was discussing advertising, the core issue is applicable to every marketing discipline. In fact, a recurring theme at AdWeek Europe was the growing struggle brands face when it comes to capturing people’s attention.
New research from The Future Foundation reveals that by 2025 consumers will be significantly less interested in what brands have to say, concluding that staying ‘useful and relevant’ will be the only way to remain in people’s lives.
James Whittaker, Technical Evangelist at Microsoft, took this a step further, outlining a future where devices will automate purchasing decisions on behalf of their owner. Brands will have to bypass machines to get people’s attention, compounding the challenge they face in capturing share of mind.
Whatever a technology-enabled future brings, it’s clear that brands are going to have to work harder and smarter to engage target audiences - as Dave Trott added: “The most important sentence on a brief is never written down…people must notice this marketing activity.”
So, the question becomes, how do we get people to notice brands? For Dave, the answer is reigniting our creative spark. He states that the human mind is a pattern-making machine that groups similar things together. Therefore, to make an impact, brands need to avoid the obvious and be different, brave and bold.
This sounds fantastic in abstract, but the challenge for marketers is how to put the theory into practice. We know what doesn’t work: jumping on the bandwagon and saying or doing the same as everybody else. However, it takes guts to carve a new path. It can be risky, and risks do not always sit well with business leaders.
But, as we have proved time and time again at 3 Monkeys, taking a risk can lead not only to audience engagement and brand love, it can also offer tangible business outcomes. A recent creative campaign for Trend Micro delivered qualified lead-gen contacts worth a £3.5m in new business - and our Surface Pro 2 Launch event led to a 24 per cent increase in sales of the product at John Lewis.
So there you have it. Standing out from the pack can be scary but it’s OK to be scared once in a while. In fact it’s probably good for you - and we know it’s good for your brand.
A lost creative spark is costing the UK billions. But at 3 Monkeys, we like to turn this on its head and think about the value we can bring by helping brands find their creative mojo.