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When Strategy Should Be Creative

When Strategy Should Be Creative

When Strategy Should Be Creative

Posted Monday December 02nd, 2013 in Analysis + Strategy.

Strategy evinces itself in a variety of ways depending on the size and type of organization; however, in an advertising agency, strategy takes on both the outbound and inbound role—for both the growth of the client and the success of the agency.

With the added pressure from both sides, good advertising strategists will try to accomplish two goals simultaneously:

1. What campaign will give the greatest ROI for the client?

2. What campaign will be the most visible for the agency to help it gain the next client?

Most often these goals work in tandem, but perhaps not in the direction that the agency desires.  For instance, it is easy to imagine a scenario where an agency has wild success with one tourism client, which leads to another tourism client, until such a time where the agency has been pigeonholed into being a ‘travel and tourism specialist.’  Perhaps such a scenario could be profitable, as such an agency would be guaranteed brand recognition for trustworthy expertise.  However, such labels can be difficult to overcome, which limits the agency’s ability to break into other industries.

Most businesses are, inherently, industry-specific; however, the strength of a creative agencyrests in its ability to cross-pollinate from many different sectors of business; from pop-culture;and from up-and-coming technology.  Although a specialist agency may ‘understand’ your industry, that doesn’t mean it can differentiate your business from the rest of your competitors.  In fact, oftentimes, it cannot – you end up with a beautiful campaign that only continues your trend (hopefully, upward) instead of providing a potential inflection point to the upside.

When it comes to choosing a creative or branding agency, the aforementioned inflection point (otherwise known as ROI) is exactly what you’re seeking.  Every strategist would readily agree that a true trend break—or reversal—can only come from an infusion of new, creative ideas and executions that are different from the company’s status quo.  The same recipe yields the same result.

Although the second goal (above) of any great advertising strategist is seemingly self-serving, the fact of the matter is that what’s best for the agency is, ultimately, what’s best for the client.  Luckily for clients, great advertising agencies are uniquely staffed and prepared to create strategies that are truly creative—strategies that can achieve multiple objectives simultaneously.  As long as agencies understand this  directive and actively try to differentiate themselves, they will have to differentiate the work that they do for clients and make it stand out in a way that attracts not only industry insiders but also leaders in other industries and even the general public.  The PR aspect of such campaigns have the potential to grow legs that run far beyond the original creative and consequent media purchase.  Think Danica Patrick of GoDaddy, or ‘Hump Day.’

Although ‘creative’ and ‘strategy’ are usually two different departments in an advertising agency, what every CSO and CMO should hope for is that their advertising strategy is creative and that their creative is strategic.  If your agency is a bit self-serving, you’ll be that much closer to getting the ROI that you and the agency need to grow together, create more work, and create more jobs for the economy.


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