The 5 Foundations of Creative Excellence

With the end of the holiday season and the beginning of a new year, we have all been flooded with “top 10” lists and “the best of the best in 2015” recaps. And while this provides a phenomenal opportunity to reflect on the advertising campaigns that stood out creatively, for many it creates a burning question: what are the foundations of excellent creative, and can successes be systematically replicated?

This is the 64 billion dollar question in advertising: Is there a repeatable formula for creative excellence? And if so, what is that formula rooted in?

Creative excellence is rooted in the shared experience of both the advertiser and the viewer. It is rooted in a sense of shared values. It is often rooted in a shared emotion, whether sadness, humor, pathos, joy, patriotism, loyalty, empathy, surprise, delight, or fear. It is sometimes rooted in the sheer wonder or audacity of the medium or message itself. I think here of the Geico video ads, which mocked the 5 second skippable video pre-roll so common in digital video advertising.

Marketing professionals strive to create the best possible creative output each time, and most often believe they know what’s going to work. However, we recognize truly great campaigns only when their overwhelming success commands our admiration after their accomplishments, never beforehand. As a great branding thinker recently put it:

“A campaign isn’t great until your viewers say it is.”

In the digital world, this truth is actually testable. The gap between campaign launch and campaign measurement has dropped from months to days to seconds. This creates new opportunities for testing creative output and bringing true science to the art of making great creative. Innovation here is just beginning – watch for much more.While the marketing scientists carry on in their pursuit of the answers, there is an opportunity for the rest of us to look back at some of the best recent advertising, and to evaluate truly compelling creative based on the lens we now have of knowing what worked and what didn’t.

Over a series of blog posts, we will break down five frameworks that serve as foundations of creative excellence, and what we think is next for creative in 2016.

Up Next: Excellent Creative Demands People’s Attention

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