The idea that creativity is important in marketing is not exactly novel – that’s probably why it’s topped the strategic priorities of organizations polled by the Boston Consulting Group for seven of eight years tested.
Nevertheless, too many organizations and companies fail to get it right, and there’s little point knowing creativity is important in marketing if you can’t use that knowledge to improve the ways you connect with customers new and old.
Why is it so important to get it right? Because customers look for authenticity, and a forced attempt at the creativity that doesn’t pull it off will backfire and repel potential customers. According to studies by various researchers including Katzenbach & Smith 2003 and Gilson, Mathieu, Shalley & Ruddy in 2005, creative teams score higher on objective measures of performance including their ability to work within tight budgets, and high-performing teams seem to have their creativity and ability to innovate to thank for their performance. Creative companies, the balance of evidence suggests, are simply more profitable.
Let’s look at two very different companies that have both harnessed creativity to power their growth.
A Card Game’s Creative Advertising Campaign
A viral smash hit among teenagers around the world, Cards Against Humanity is loved for its unashamed vulgarity and shock humor and the hilarity those create at parties. Players are shown a black card e.g. “What ended my last relationship?” and compete to answer it with their funniest white card, e.g. “angry penguins” or “elderly Japanese men”. It’s a fun game by itself, but their marketing (or should we say anti-marketing) campaigns are truly incredible.
For Black Friday in 2015, they offered nothing for $5 – and over 11,000 people bought it. The year before, they had sold boxes of literal bull feces for $6 to 30,000 people. For the Super Bowl in 2016, they lampooned typical Super Bowl ads with a fake ad featuring a potato with the word ADVERTISEMENT on it and nothing else – no sound, no other visuals, no motion — for thirty seconds. Cards Against Humanity are marketing geniuses, but they do have it easier than Geico?
Geico’s Great Creative Advertising Accomplishments
Geico manages to consistently make uniquely interesting ads despite their product being insurance- decidedly unsexier than a risqué party game. Talking lizards, pigs, and comical caveman have conquered both tv and online channels in the last decade. They tap into a wide range of target audiences with a variety of creative presentations and memorable messaging. Take a look at this ad, which recognizes that humor will make people remember more than the most sophisticated but boring ad.
What To Take Away
Often, to be a good marketer, creativity requires that you question standard practices and be able to laugh at yourself and your industry. You don’t have to be quite as irreverent as Cards Against Humanity, but if you can stay earnest without taking yourself too seriously, you have a shot at that kind of viral success.
Need creative ideas for your company’s marketing? Contact us to start brainstorming!