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How should marketers define creativity?

News, 18 November 2016

NEW YORK: Defining what "creativity" is, and how it adds to the impact of advertising, remain open questions for marketers, according to a paper published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

Arthur J. Kover, Fordham University professor emeritus and a former JAR editor-in-chief, explored a series of unsolved queries about advertising creativity in the latest issue of the journal.

"Just what 'creativity' is, and how it makes an impact, long has vexed researchers in the fields," Kover writes. "When pushed hard, most would say, 'I really can't explain it, but I know it when I see it.'

"Perhaps that's the best 'partial' answer, but that 'flash of intuition' depends on who is exposed to the advertising ... Or, in other words, the success of creativity depends on the audience as well as the art."

Kover is also a management fellow at Yale University School of Management, a past president of the Market Research Council and Advertising Agency Research Directors' Council, and his career has included 23 years in advertising agencies.

"The 'open' questions I have raised aren't new," he continues. "They have been asked for years. In the rush of putting out advertising, however, practitioners often ignore them. They may do what has been done before or else fall for the hard pitches of copywriters hoping to have their work see light.

"Academics have nibbled at the edges – defining creativity, skirting the issues (with some major exceptions) of defining when creativity (whatever it is) is needed, and finding some answers in statistical analysis."

In what he writes will be his last contribution to the literature of marketing research, Kover concludes, "The core questions remain: Not what creativity is; rather, how, when, and where does creativity add to the effects of advertising?"

To probe for answers, he recommends careful consideration of the underlying creative strategy early in the process of developing advertising.

Data sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by Warc staff