British Heart Foundation: creative and effective work

Why commercial creativity has never been more important to marketing

Cannes celebrates the very best ideas from around the world. But the industry also needs to demonstrate that this creative work has a commercial impact, argues Gurdeep Puri, founding partner of The Effectiveness Partnership.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.” Attributed to John Wanamaker (1838-1922).

That was a century ago. Back then, routes to market and communication were fewer and less complex, and evaluation and measurement were less sophisticated. Things are different now. In some ways.

What’s different is the explosion in the ways of getting product messages out there. The plethora of data now available to assess impact and efficiency.

But what hasn’t changed is that, even today, many marketers still aren’t able to say just where their marketing efforts are commercially effective, and where the money they spend is utterly wasted.

It all comes down to the money, as Wanamaker pointed out. The money, and its effective use to make more money. Our task as marketers is a commercial one, first and foremost.

Yet today, the marketing community actually seems to be finding it harder to prove the commercial value of its creativity than marketers a century ago. Instead, there’s a growing tendency to fall back on simple, self-defined measures of ‘proof’ that don’t actually prove anything much at all.

We obsess over measures that show it’s costing us less to talk to our audiences in this channel or on this platform. We get excited when our campaigns are lauded and applauded for cutting-edge creativity. These things are great, of course. But if we don’t understand how they have work together to impact on the bottom line, it’s of little real benefit to us as marketers.

I’d like to offer some thoughts about why things have come to this, and some suggestions for what might be done about it.

Too much data, too little understanding

We see 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day, apparently.  There’s more data produced every day, than all the data put together in all the years since the dawn of civilisation! Data’s a good thing, in theory. Yet a recent IBM survey reveals that over 82% of CMO are actually struggling to cope with this explosion in data..

So we need a way to navigate this maze of information to focus on what’s important, on how it can help marketing with impact on the bottom line. And we need a way to assess whether it was successful, commercially.

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