At Band, we talk a lot about a few key symptoms of the changing media consumption landscape – buying behavior, media snacking, participation. But one that the industry buzzes about, yet proves to be more than a small challenge to marketers, is the race for creativity.

We are in the constant race to be more clever, prettier or more convincing. Not that advertising hasn’t always been that way. But with more channels for reaching people, an increased disinterest from the public in traditional formats, and a micro-speck of the attention span of 15 years ago, we stand in a place where creativity has absolutely NEVER been more important.

Consider the Old Spice campaign. Most times, I’d argue that campaigns like this really only have life in “our world” – the world of agencies. For example, Subservient Chicken has long been heralded as a groundbreaking viral phenom. It’s won countless awards and appeared in an obnoxious amount of agency presentations. Yet, I’d challenge you to match this awe from the general public. I’ve met plenty of their “target demo” who’ve never even heard of it. Old Spice, however, broke the mold. It was CREATIVE. Not just in concept, but in delivery. It wasn’t just a clever commercial – they took that interest and drove it all over the place. YouTube became its new home. And it is now the new Holy Grail of viral marketing – because everyone from my boyfriend to my 12-year old son know and love this campaign. My son even asked for me to buy him Old Spice bodywash. But it wasn’t a pure accident. Paid media drove views and delivered new opportunities to get even more creative – like with their 24-hour “ask the Old Spice Guy a question” bit.

creativity race
(Skittles TV ad – via

Step away from Old Spice and we have an industry of people that are in a desperate fight to be just this creative. It’s a race. A frenzied one. In the fight to be seen, we’ve witnessed the rise of the “bizarre advertising” category. The bar it pushes? How strange it can be! (This MUST attract tweens and teens! Right?) Now, Skittles probably has the corner on this market. But, the reality is that it doesn’t always work. Especially post-Skittles. Everyone else just feels like a copycat. Being “boldly strange” doesn’t automatically translate into fanship and sales. The fact is these brands are hoping to “go viral.” But they’re really only acting weird.

To win, your creative idea has to be inexorably linked to WHO YOU ARE. Beyond that, it must function in that non-linear way that draws people from all corners of their media habits.

Creativity isn’t just about how shocking your idea is, how bright and sparkly – but how it connections with an audience. And the elements you bring to a campaign that matches the overarching sentiment. We have all of this amazing technology and all of these incredible platforms for communication. We’re talking about a slew of portable devices now, not just mobile phones. Plus, interactive TVs; technology adapted experiential marketing; LBS; and new and more interactive web experiences. Marketing needs to get creative in delivery and adaptability – not just in how brightly it sparkles.


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