Creative lines get blurred

1 October 2014

LONDON: Agencies no longer possess the "unfair advantage" of creativity and need to reconsider their position in a world where this talent is widespread and where the very definition of what it entails is becoming blurred.

Writing in a special edition of Admap marking its 50th anniversary, James Hurman, founder of Auckland-based innovation consultancy Previously Unavailable, argued that business and consumers had become far more creative in recent years and that the creative industries were "fast losing ownership of creativity".

In an article titled Creativity ain't what it used to be, he pointed to the example of Kickstarter, where the best videos "are every bit as good as the best case study videos at Cannes. And the best ideas within those videos are often better". At the same time, more consumers were becoming makers or co-creators.

And within the advertising world itself he had observed a shift in focus "from the communication of the product or experience to applying creativity to the actual product or experience".

One example of this was a previous winner of the Warc Prize for Innovation, The Overstay Checkout, a campaign for Art Series Hotels. This was based around the realisation that there was little point in requiring hotel guests to leave their room by 10am if there was no-one else checking in until much later.

So the hotel changed its policy and let guests stay for free until the next guest arrived. Or, as Hurman said: "It gave away something that cost the company nothing to create enormous perceived value."

While one of creators of this campaign regarded it as simply a pricing and policy change – nothing creative – Hurman argued that it was in fact "brilliantly creative, a stroke of genius".

He saw a similar process at work in this year's Cannes Creative Lions Grand Prix – Guilt Trips for the V/Line train operator in Australia, where parents guilt-tripped their 20-something children into paying them a visit. The commercial merit in this approach was evident in the sales of 160,000 extra train rides, he remarked.

Overall Hurman suggested that those companies which used creativity to position their brand though their product, experience and behaviour, while simultaneously tapping into universal human truths, were the ones that were winning out.

Data sourced from Admap