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Team of Industrial Engineers


Measuring Creativity in Advertising

Updated: Jul 21

In the cluttered environment of today, many marketers are happy with advertising that is able to garner attention. Could we be greedy and ask for more?

How do we understand if a creative is right for our marketing goals? We present a simple 3 point framework to evaluating advertisements.

Its always easier to sieve the rotten tomatoes, while differentiating between good vs truly memorable advertising can be tricky.

Creativity, Measurement, Advertising

Can Creativity be measured?

Most marketers appreciate the role of memorable advertising to build brands! This has never been truer than for the connected consumer of today, who is constantly bombarded with messaging and whose attention is fragmented across multiple media and life events at any point-in-time! This is further compounded by the fact that the most often viewed screen itself is much smaller and content is available on-demand!

“Creative advertising is more memorable, longer lasting, works with less media spending, and builds a fan community…. Faster.” - Stephan Vogel – CEO Ogilvy & Mather, Germany

But can such memorable advertising be measured? After all creativity is hard to be judged and creating memorable advertisements requires not just high creativity but a deep understanding of the brand and the product category. In fact, we argue that creating memorable advertising requires a keen observance and perception of the consumers world, her feelings, aspirations, and her cultural context. Phew, and now triangulate it all back to the brand in a 30-second messaging!

Some wonder, how can a boring consumer survey then measure how good a piece of advertising is? As a brand custodian, how should we evaluate an advertisement and decide whether it’s good enough even to proceed to testing with consumers? Even the most experienced marketer sometimes finds it hard to evaluate multiple scripts or like some element like the character in one script or leans towards another that leverages the brand assets well.

I’d like to share a simple 3 point framework for evaluating an ad

System 1, Advertising, Ads, Emotional response, creativity

1. Smile test: Did the ad make me smile or frown or stand up and take notice? Does it illicit an emotion or resonate at any level?

2. Think test: Wait a minute, what did we set out to do? What is the most important job to be done by advertising for the brand at this time?

3. Connect test: If I close my eyes and replace another brand in this ad, does the ad still work?

For all the talk around System 1 methods to decode consumers response, we ourselves over-intellectualise our response to advertising! However, the first and most important is our spontaneous, non-rational response. Then comes the thinking on strategic fit, JTBD. Perhaps the least understood is the third aspect around Brand Connect.

The Connect test is a litmus test and separates the good vs great because the beauty is in the creative magnifier being deeply rooted in the brand and category; Fevicol and Kurkure ads have a lasting memory. In fact this essence is also captured in the taglines which talk to the brand and most of the loved ads equally well- Mazboot jod or Tedha hain par mera hain, Just do it!

When it comes to Cred; without doubt it made everyone sit-up and take notice, so it does illicit a response. One can argue it was bang on strategy as gaining top-of-mind salience in a cluttered IPL environment. That would be the key advertising objective for a fintech company where the key goal of marketing is rapid consumer recruitment.

However, the connect was deep with the insight around Rahul Dravid but not with the brand! The story loses noting if the brand was not Cred but Kodak or Bata? Is that perhaps why, despite it being a highly creative ad with awesome use of a celebrity, I cannot seem to remember the tagline or end-message. Indeed the reaction for many consumers on the smile test may have been sheer confusion. What the hell was this as trying to tell me?

Formal ad testing uses the same conceptual framework and tries to measure advertising effectiveness in terms of the ad’s 1. Clutter breaking ability 2. Message resonance 3. Brand centrality

Technology around Facial recognition tools strengthens System 1 measurement even in quantitative testing. Irrespective of the technique, it’s easier to weed out the rotten tomatoes! – to the extent judging anyones labour of love can be easy!

The real challenge is in sieving good vs. memorable advertising! This requires not just research expertise but equally an appreciation of the brand, jobs-to-be done and the consumer world. Given the consumer reality of ever increasing clutter, and lower attention spans, good advertising can only help maintain status-quo and will not power your brand beyond short term salience, despite high media weights!

So next time you evaluate a new ad, do run it by the 3 step test- Smile….Think….Connect ! Another tip – If one needs a PPT or a long preamble to explain the ad, it ain’t there! Great ads are anchored on human insights that are simple and intuitive, almost obvious in hindsight!


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