Are creative ads more effective in inspiring people to buy products than ads that simply catalogue product features or benefits? Conventional wisdom argues that yes, creativity matters and that, overall, creative campaigns are more effective. Considerably so.

An original ad comprises elements that are rare or surprising, or that move away from the obvious and commonplace. The focus is on the uniqueness of the ideas or features contained in the ad. Many advertising campaigns however are anything but original. The prototypical washing powder spot shows a homemaker satisfied with an even whiter wash; perfumes feature picture-perfect models; and cars cruise through beautiful landscapes free of traffic.

Ads with a high level of artistic creativity contain aesthetically appealing verbal, visual, or sound elements. Their production quality is high, their dialogue is clever, their colour palette is original, or their music is memorable. As a result, consumers often view the ads as almost a piece of art rather than a blatant sales pitch. In this day and age where there is media overkill, creativity, whether it applies to copywriting skills, art direction or social media, is an asset.

Sadly in many – indeed, most – cases, companies tend to err on the side of conservatism. Which is a pity. Successful brands connect with customers on an emotional level. Customers become loyal to a brand because they like something about it. Creativity alone will not ensure the success of a brand . On the other hand, no amount of market research can guarantee success either. The key is to pair creativity with data to lead to a unique, exciting and memorable brand. The research keeps the creative team focused on the brand’s attributes and target audience. The creativity makes sure the brand’s story is compelling.

Gregory Sander