Thursday 21 September 2017, Bristol

PM Forum South West’s September 2017 event explored the concept of creativity in marketing. It left the professional services marketers that attended with some practical tips that we could take away and apply at our firms. 

PWC hosted the event in their Glass Wharf offices and the talk was delivered by Anthony Mullinder from Reality House – a creative agency based in Bath.

It’s an exciting time in marketing with so many new channels to explore, but Anthony challenged the room that there is a lot of mediocrity out there when it comes to the quality of campaigns. 

Two types of creativity

He defined two types of creativity:

Applied creativity – This is the creativity of actually doing stuff, usually governed by rules. For example, coding, filming, writing.

Conceptual creativity – This is generating raw ideas.

The truth is, you need both. So what is going wrong?

Blame it on Data

There’s a capital ‘D’ on data because at this point we were shown a picture of Data, the Star Trek character. But, of course, we were really talking about data with a little ‘d’. And how every firm out there has it drilled into them to collect as much of it as possible. With everyone collecting the same data and using it to inform their marketing, it is no wonder most campaigns end up being samey.

At this point there was a reference to famous copywriter John Hegarty and the sentiment that technology and data create opportunity, but creativity delivers value. 

We can all be creative

Anthony put it to us that agencies have been guilty of putting creativity on a pedestal, making it seem impossible for client-side marketers to be creative. He amusingly put forward two types of agency creative director: 

  1. The all-powerful wizard – Someone who blesses you with far-out ideas that are so creative (and so far removed from your brand), that your board will never buy it.
  2. The hipster - An applied creative who will steadfastly follow design rules that will change the concept of your brand. (Cue a slide of famous logos amusingly redesigned through the retro-nostalgic eyes of one of Shoreditch’s finest). 

Three tips for creativity

So, with the message that everyone has inner creativity, here are three tips to help tease it out: 

1.    You don’t need to be original to be creative – Nothing is ever truly new, so don’t burden yourself with insisting on originality. Instead, try being fresh. Look for good marketing ideas that others are doing in different sectors and put your own spin on them. 

For example, the Haas Brinker hotel in Amsterdam inspired Reality House’s campaign for Bishop Fleming. The Haas Brinker campaign slogan was, “The hotel that couldn’t care less”. It was going for a target audience who want a no frills, cheap bed for the night and absolutely nothing else. Reality House’s campaign for Bishop Fleming was targeting young business owners who choose an accountant simply because they can’t be bothered to crunch the numbers themselves. Therefore, the new slogan was, “We do the work because you don’t want to”. 

2.     The perception of value is just as important as actual value – Here, the example of Eurostar was cited, where the brief was to improve the journey from London to Paris. It was said that £5 billion was spent on a huge engineering project that reduced the journey time by 20 minutes. How about spending a fraction of that by just installing great quality wi-fi on the train, which would hugely improve the journey for most people – without the eye-watering bill?

Shreddies’ “Diamond Shreddies” campaign was also highlighted alongside a successful Haines Watts survey of SME business owners campaign, called ‘The secret life of the business owner’.

3.      People are emotional not logical ­– Appealing to emotion is a great foundation for any marketing campaign. The Brexit referendum, Trump’s victory – these both showed that facts don’t necessarily win elections. Messages such as, “Aren’t you sick of the EU holding you back?” and “Let’s make America great again” invoke feelings that are far more powerful than focusing on minutiae of economic data.

So, when devising your next campaign, think ‘What do I want people to feel when they read my message?’

Written by Huw Bendon, South West Regional PR
Managing Director and Founder, On Point Copywriting