7 Customs Stifling Marketing Creativity

7 Customs Stifling Marketing Creativity

Tim Harris and Saneel Radia of Denuo propose seven dated notions that may be stifling creative thinking and innovation.

Paloma M. Vazquez
  • 1 september 2010

A video presentation by Tim Harris and Saneel Radia of Denuo challenged what they identified as the 7 sacred cows of marketing, which merit debunking due to their ability to stifle creativity. These observations offer considerable points of discussion for advertising agencies, media companies and marketers/brands overall, whom rely on how creativity is defined and fostered within each respective business model and organizational structure (and culture) in order to generate truly creative marketing and advertising.

  1. All ideas are good ideas: In reality, this is not the case when you have finite resources. Harris and Radia suggest challenging the approach many agencies often take to ideation – the ideas buffet, where divergent ideas co-mingle. They instead recommend convergent ideation – making 1 of your ideas the lead idea by which to develop other, divergent ideas – as a more effective approach. In addition, assign a bouncer to the creative process – not an editor – this person facilitates the process of evolving ideas, vs. deciding which ones stay and which are discarded.
  2. Ad campaigns are an essential marketing expense. The notion of a transient, finite campaign is how most agencies and brands think about marketing. What if, instead of focusing on campaigns, marketing were evergreen? It could be infinite, evolutionary and more permanent. What if marketing lived at the intersection of product and consumer behavior (i.e., Nike+:  a marketing platform that facilitates interaction with the actual product)? And what if all marketing created tangible value? This could be summed up as a challenge to create marketing assets instead of campaigns.
  3. The best teams are collections of superheroes. These eliminate the intersectional innovation that results from two completely unrelated fields – or talents – overlapping and creating something new.
  4. Creative leaders should be the most creative people. The challenge with placing a creative rockstar in the leadership position is that they aren’t able to publicly fail. A creative leader, on the other hand, is tasked with causing or facilitating creativity – which requires a different set of skills that those of a ‘rockstar creative’. The proposed solution? Reward creative people differently from creative catalysts.
  5. Each employee should strive for perfection. Create the perfect job for each individual’s strengths – not the perfect person.
  6. Marketing is a masterpiece to be revealed. Most creative geniuses want their masterpieces to be revealed. It used to be the case in marketing that you had to fully bake your idea before launching it. However, because we now have the tools to iterate, the notion of an official ‘launch’ is losing validity and necessity. With a collaborative launch, you can keep marketing in perpetual beta; you can create something that is ready to evolve, and not just to be launched, or to be killed because it’s not 100% ready to launch. There may be something to be said for the notion among many tech start-ups that, if you’re not embarrassed by your first iteration, you ‘launched’ too late.
  7. Integration is the ideal. Embrace the one-off idea that is oftentimes cast aside as a ‘good idea’, but that lacks the immediately available media on which to extend it (for example). Instead, experiment with these one-off ideas, and see if you can rally SOME of your ships (instead of all). Allow room to fail quickly so you can make your next product even better.

We found these to be valid points worth discussing, without issuing any blame to agencies, vs. media planners/buyers, vs. clients – we’re all responsible and accountable for playing our role in fostering creativity.


[via Media 2010]


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