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Why creativity key to ensuring advertising is here for good

Why creativity key to ensuring advertising is here for good
Brave Innovator Felix Morgan reveals why Tom Knox's new agenda as President could be exactly what the industry needs at a crucial time.

We recently went to the IPA Members’ Lunch at The Rosewood Hotel, for the inauguration of its new president, Tom Knox.

After a successful two years with Ian Priest at the helm, Tom has stepped in and outlined his vision for the IPA for next 24 months.

The key theme he highlighted was the societal benefits of advertising. He revealed his plan to make the industry ‘Here for Good’ – defining this as good for our clients, for our consumers, and also for our own people.

This topic resonated very strongly with me; it’s something I’ve actually been thinking about a lot recently. My interest was initially sparked by a quote often attributed to Banksy:

“The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists.”

This was a perfectly valid point in the past, but I’m not sure it’s true any more.

While advertising itself may have run a little stale, the start-up world has boomed and the barriers to creativity have been lowering in other areas.

Advertising used to attract the best of the best, but in recent times we’ve struggled for talent.

Tom Knox thinks one of the reasons for this is a tacit lack of purpose. In his speech he pointed to a piece of research that found 62% of millennials want to work for a company that makes a positive impact.

This highlights a big need for us to do better in our business, in order to recruit the best talent.

It’s not just about recruitment, however – consumers are becoming much more savvy, too. We now operate in an age of transparency, where technology has empowered individuals more than ever and increased accountability for brands.

People buy into brands that reflect their values and priorities, so businesses can no longer get away with a ‘whatever it takes’ approach to selling. They have to be more mindful in their approach in order to be effective; brands that focus on a clear brand purpose – and work hard to fulfil it – will reap the benefits.

- A recent WARC paper stated that brands with purpose outperform by an average of 8% annually

- Jim Stengel conducted a well-known study that established a cause-and-effect relationship between the successes of the 50 fastest growing brands (from a study of 50,000) and the higher purposes driving them

- Just this week, Unilever revealed that its brands deemed to show a purpose are growing at twice the speed of others in the portfolio

These examples show that there’s a mutually beneficial goal here – advertising can do great things for the world, but we can also sell products at the same time; the two goals don’t have to be mutually exclusive. And by focusing our efforts towards positive goals, we can achieve success for brands, for our consumers and for the world itself.

So how do we do that?

I believe the solution can be found in the Banksy quote above – creativity.

Despite increased competition, we’re still blessed with some of the most creative minds on the planet, and with that comes a huge amount of capability to solve problems through creative thinking.

We spend our whole working lives doing exactly that – and we’ve become pretty damn good at it. Better than any other creative industry we understand human behaviour – and we’ve spent decades learning how to change it.

No industry is better placed to use creativity to positively change behaviours, and we are in a fantastic position where we can prosper while doing it.

And it’s not just down to the brands to achieve this; they have a big job to do but, as agencies, we have to practise what we preach. To really instil change in the world, we need to start with our own behaviours and embody positive values in the way we work.

At Brave, we place a big focus on this. Recently, we’ve been working with an organisation called CLAY that is dedicated to helping prevent the trauma caused by cyber bullying.

We’ve created a print and social campaign to highlight how virtual actions have real-life consequences, encouraging the nation’s youngsters to ‘think before they send’.

CLAY is ecstatic about the work and it will hopefully influence the behaviour of lots of young people – but on a purely commercial level, our creatives also found it a really inspiring project to work on. This is a virtuous circle of value.

Tom Knox’s new focus for the IPA is not merely inspiring, it’s an absolute necessity for us to succeed as communicators.

Brand purpose and brand success go hand in hand, so it’s important that we use our creativity to generate positive change in the world.

Only then will we succeed as brand owners and as communicators, but also as people.

Felix Morgan is Innovator at Brave.

Discover more about Tom Knox's agenda leading into the 2017 IPA Centenary #AdValues.

Last updated 15/05/2015

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