Advertising Creative – Why You Should Go with Your Gut

When I started my career in travel and tourism marketing, an old boss of mine (who now, I should add, is a good friend) had a particular habit when it came to appraising creative that used to drive me up the wall.


‘I don’t like it,’ he used to say. ‘Just get them to do it again.’


‘But what don’t you like about it?’ I would ask.


‘I just don’t like it. Get them to do it again,’ he would repeat.


No further promptings or pleadings would yield me any further information so my only feedback to an often perplexed agency would be, ‘Sorry, he doesn’t like it. Don’t ask me why. You’re going to need to do it again.’


Back then, I was hot out of sales. I was numbers driven and analytical – I wanted reasoned argument, not gut reaction.


Of course, I still appreciate numbers and analysis. But I understand my old boss better now, because there are times when the gut is better.


When someone shows you a piece of creative, go with your initial reaction. If you like it great. If not, throw it out.  Don’t try and second guess your target market if you’re not one of them. Why? Because:


A. You can’t.


B. Human beings tend to react to things in similar ways, so if you love it, your customers will probably love it. If you don’t, they probably won’t.


You can make this process more robust by showing it to some people who are in your target market, but then just gauge their gut reaction – don’t ask them to analyse it. It’s a false situation – only marketers analyse marketing – customers have better things to do with their lives.


And guard against all those agency tricks they use to get you to like their favoured creative.  All that preamble about their thinking and how they arrived at that solution. Your customers aren’t going to get an introduction when they see that ad. They’re not going to have 3 other versions to compare it to. They’re just going to see it – pure, unadulterated, unexplained.  You need to replicate that experience. Tell your agency to cut to the chase and show you their favoured creative – they shouldn’t need to explain it to you.


And while I’m on the subject of agencies, they always make your logo too small – probably because they know that whatever size they make it you’re going to ask them to make it bigger. ..

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