Sign Up to MarketingCraft Newsletter for Free!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Is Creativity Enough To Propel Brand Success?

Shashwith Uthappa
May 21, 2020

GetCraft's first Singapore Marketers Meetup explored how the magic of ad-land—once celebrated for great storytelling and ideas—is fighting for relevance.

Defining the role of creativity

The event started off with a discussion around the importance of creativity in today's business. While it was inarguably noted to be a business imperative, people from different sides of the industry (brands, agencies, platforms) each viewed creativity differently.

From left to right: David Mayo (Chief Growth Officer, GetCraft), Erica Kerner (Board Chairman, Marketing Society), Josh Gallagher (Chief Product Officer, Mediacom), Andy Greenaway (ECD, Dentsu), Jasper Distel (International Brand and Media, Go-Jek), Neil Stewart (Head of Agency, APAC, Facebook); Photo by Shashwith Uthappa

Neil Stewart, Head of Agency, APAC at Facebook believes that the single determinant of success/failure is the body of the creative that is running on the platform. To him, it doesn't matter how much money you pump behind it to make it work; a good creative will cut through whatever platforms are in place. (However, there are times when a good creative could still benefit from that extra push.)

Also read: Please Stop Asking For Viral Videos

On the other hand, Andy Greenaway, ECD at Dentsu lamented about a whole new generation of young advertising professionals, who, despite their in-depth knowledge of the workings of social media, often miss the “Big Idea” or the brand psychology.

Personally, I would argue that the “Big Idea” and the “Ideal” are born from the same mother: the brand. Brand ideal is not mutually exclusive to corporate commercialism. If your brand can stand for something, it has the power to connect with consumers better.

To Greenaway, relevance is key to creativity and humor is a quality that resonates well with audiences, thus increasing shareability. An example that comes to mind is Oreo's 'Dunk in the Dark' tweet during the black-out at the Superbowl in 2013. Context, Content, Creative - check, check, checkmate!

Jasper Distel, International Brand and Media at Gojek says, "Go find another job if you think creativity is not important." He shared how essential it is to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk by intrinsically flowing through product development, data science, research and development to advertising.

But is creativity the end-all and be-all for brand success? Erica Kerner, Board Chairman of the Marketing Society remarked about 'Creativity for Creativity's sake'—where brands have done some amazing campaigns, but in the end have not resulted in the strongest brand recall. With the shorter attention spans of consumers today, it has become increasingly challenging to make the creative work harder and realize its objective.

Goal setting and strategy

A campaign is successful if it has captured its target market’s attention, generated an emotion or interest, had strong brand recall and had led to a specific action (consideration or purchase). That’s what separates companies with products to brands. With new data and technology, advertisers have access to better targeting, reach and recency (when your brands is discoverable at the point of consumer consideration) — allowing them to drive better ROI on campaigns.

For example, Nielsen did a study in 2017 where they saw the recency effect come into play for consumers who buy beer on weekends. The ads were most effective when campaigns were run on Thursday and Friday (right before the purchase decision). Hence, a strong creative needs to do a balancing act between efficiency and effectiveness. After all, CMOs are answerable to the CEOs and they, in turn, are answerable to the stakeholders who are in constant pursuit of ROI.

There are multiple ways of engaging in today's complex media landscape. Josh Gallagher, Chief Product Officer at Mediacom, talks about non-linear ways of storytelling with platforms like Netflix and HBO. We can take a leaflet from there and use it in advertising. Instead of pushing your ad to the consumers, make the creative so interesting that viewers won't want to 'Skip Ad'.

Of course, when it comes to creating these brand assets, there is no "one size fits all" approach. The great promise of digital enables better workflows and keeps the target audience at the nucleus of all communications.

Also read: The Best Uses For Different Influencer Marketing Channels

There was much debate on the channels used (TV vs. Digital). Greater internet penetration in developed markets demands different ways of targeting audiences, whereas TV works better in certain developing markets where there is a strong consumer affinity to the TV channels.

Gallagher quipped that creative agencies, however, haven't been successful in the way they've structured to deal with the fragmented media landscape. He claimed that clients have had a disservice when it comes to measurement. At Mediacom, they are able to measure short-term campaigns and look at their impact in the long-term.

David Mayo, GetCraft's Chief Growth Officer who moderated the panel questioned who is steering the wheel. Is the behavior of media agencies driven by creative agencies?

The consensus was to stick to one's strengths, and, when that is not enough, have the Hollywood model where domain experts come together for a specific project and disband when it's done.

On multitasking CMOs

The discussion is then steered to the changing role of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Today, there's a lot that comes between that C & O—Digital Specialist, Media Specialist, Tech Specialist, Data and Brand Building Specialist. However, this New Age CMO should not be seen as a Hindu God with multiple arms. As Distel rightly quips, "No one can do it all."

Hire the right people who'll work with you on multiple aspects while building the brand. It might differ for consumer-facing companies where the product talks—whereas for tech companies, it's the platform or the UX that creates brand affinity.

Thinking long-term

Before we hold a yardstick of brand building success to up-and-coming unicorns (privately owned companies valued at 1 billion dollars or above) out there, we need to assess consistent creative delivery. You might see some great campaigns, but building a brand is not just a sprint—it is a marathon.

Andy Greenaway believes that the glitter of data and new technology needs a haul over the coals and amidst these “jingling jangling tactics,” there has been a loss of the Big Idea. Agencies need to put their focus less on the fireworks and more on creating the spark that will last 30 years from now, propelling brand success. Like the legendary Ad man David Ogilvy said, "Unless your campaign has a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night."

Related: Immersive Storytelling: Are You Doing It The Right Way?

Safe to say, there were three big C's that were discussed in great detail: Coffee, CMOs and Creative Delivery.

Shashwith Uthappa is a passionate storyteller and has worked on consumer-facing and B2B brands in the FMCG, hospitality, beauty and wellness, and financial services industries. She has led international projects end-to-end, led marketing strategies, and augmented brand growth.

Shashwith has led the global award-winning home for ideas, debate and analysis,, where her expertise in editorial and content planning has helped create multi-form thumb-stopping content for numerous brands. She loves working with creators and shares the GetCraft vision to inspire, educate and empower them. Based in Singapore, Shashwith is GetCraft’s Senior Network & Marketing Manager.

You must be a premium member to view the full content

Sorry, but the rest of this article is for our Premium Members only. To gain access to this content and many more benefits, subscribe below!

Weekly Marketing Supply


In-depth marketing articles

Get it for free!

Premium Subscription

US$ 10 / month

8+ Free marketing webinar tickets per month
Bespoke industry research & guides
All past tutorials, panels & interview recordings
Exclusive brand offers & VIP Events
In-depth marketing articles
No items found.

Related articles