Sunday, August 26, 2018

Do You Know If Your Creative Sucks? Here's Why You Should Care

More often than not, the quality of creativity is seen as subjective. Personal preferences of colors and font are one thing. You then have all kinds of personal perspectives that get layered on as well based on the reviewer's frame of reference. It also can reveal a surprising amount about the reviewer (but that’s another post).

I've recently been introduced to some constructs (thanks Sweathead group)that help to set up an objective way to just the quality of creative; I find it fascinating and surprising that the industry as a whole has not yet adopted this (or something similar) as a universal measure. Because, quite frankly, if you're doing things that are ranked at 1-3, why even bother?

A piece from Fast Company highlighted why Heineken was named Cannes Marketer of Year:
"In an attempt to scale best behavior across the company and ensure everyone adopts the same language and uses similar criteria to define what great creativity is, the company operates a Global Commerce University (GCU). It is a global hub, which provides mandatory training primarily for marketing and sales staffers. Morelli-Verhoog says: “It produces, deploys and embeds capabilities to build stronger brands. One of the fundamental capability streams is creativity.” The “backbone” of this stream is an internal tool known as the “creative ladder.” This is a 10-step ladder going from “destructive” creativity at its base to “legendary” at the top.
Here is Heineken's "creative ladder":

To keep the creative bar set high, Heineken uses "Creative Monday" to keep the marketing team of 1.500 people thinking about how to judge advertising:
Morelli-Verhoog says: ”Every Monday morning at 9 a.m. we send out a not-easy-to-judge piece of creative to the entire marketing community. We’ve done Adidas, Red Bull, Beats, and so on. Then people judge the work in terms of the creative ladder. Sometimes we ask people to explain their thinking because it is not about the voting, it’s about articulating the rationale. It gets super-passionate and then at 10 a.m. we stop. On Tuesday we [the GCU] reveal what we think and explain why a 7 is a 7 or a 6 is a 6. People love it because it is low effort for them, but it formally keeps creativity on the agenda every single week. We don’t let go.”
I love this idea and think it's a shame more brands don't do it. Of course, it would require them to value creativity to invest the time and resources to it.

As more brands bring creative in-house (as is the current trend), it becomes even more critical for them to provide continual support of the creative output from their internal teams——across marketing and advertising disciplines. Great creative requires buy-in throughout the approval chain. It needs everyone involved to support creativity and ideas that challenge the norm.

Similarly, Leo Burnett Worldwide has a Global Product Committee (@TheLBGCP) which meets 4 times a year to internally judge the agency's work on a 1-10 scale. The group upholds the benchmark for the agency’s global network’s creative reputation and is comprised of creative directors, managing directors, planners, and account directors from offices around the world.

Their scale is very similar, which they call “The Humankind Scale”:

This is the core belief of what we call HumanKind. It’s not about advertising or brand propositions or marketing. lt's about people and purpose. lt’s an approach to marketing that serves true human needs, not the other way around.

That's why everything we do for brands is designed with a human purpose in mind. A brand without purpose is one that will never be understood or embraced by people. A brand with purpose can be a true agent of change and transform the way people think, feel or act. A brand with a true Humankind purpose can change the world. Our dream is to be the best creator of those ideas that truly move people - bar none.
The thinking here is that a client isn’t going to partner with the agency if it doesn’t hold these beliefs as well. At least that would be my guess. If that’s the case, this would be something that is presented and outlined in pitch decks, clearly setting the expectation with the client so they’re onboard with the same view to judge creativity.

A great creative idea that never gets made isn’t worth much. It’s one of the reasons why relationship building with clients is so important for creative leads. Often the thought is that that is only the account lead’s job, and it’s true, the majority of it is with them. But, you need to be trusted to sell in highly creative ideas, ideas that are seen as risky, as bold, as new. If your client faith in your team, they are more likely to have faith in your ideas. It’s a matter of showing them you’re not doing something creative for the sake of being creative, but there is a purpose driving each piece of it.

So, with all of these connections, it seems to me that both brands and agencies would benefit from improving their cultures around creativity. And, yes, it also could help to bring back the value of creativity which the industry as a whole has commoditized. Now, I'm not saying that this creative scale is the be-all-end-all, but it would be a great way to start building alignment to the conversation on a topic that is driven by subjectivity. Perhaps it would stop clients from wasting money on campaigns and marketing that gets lost in the crowd or just plain ignored.

(hat tips to @MarkPollard and @Dr_Draper for their inspiration and slide sharing)

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