Creativity in advertising: Eyebrows, Greek banquets, a violin and some invisible fish

Dominic Twose

Last summer I had an interesting experience in a cinema. I'd arrived early and was watching the ads while I munched on popcorn. The film was a popular one and the cinema was full. Around me, people were talking and laughing, waiting for the film to start.

Then another ad started. This one featured two serious-looking children, a boy and a girl, sitting side by side and facing the camera. A lively electropop tune began to play, and the children, still unsmiling, began moving their eyebrows in rhythm to the music. Within seconds, a hush fell over the cinema as the children's eyebrow gyrations got faster and more complex. Conversations stopped as everyone turned their focus to the facial gymnastics being performed on the screen.

That ad for Cadbury's Dairy Milk is a great example of one of the chief benefits of creativity in advertising: Creativity can grab attention. People are bombarded by ads on a daily or even hourly basis, but they screen most of the ads out, either actively or passively. When people are not interested in hearing about brands – which is most of the time – they're not really interested in looking at ads either. But creativity can allow an ad to get past the normal filtering process. Creativity can make people stop what they're doing and pay attention, even when they know what they're looking at is an ad.

Simonides at the banquet