Why the most creative campaign may not be the best

By Diane Devaney

When it comes to marketing campaigns, being as creative as possible is always the best option, right?


Didn’t expect that from and ad person, did you?

Creative campaigns, especially creative ad campaigns, do matter. But simply being creative should never be the goal for any campaign. Delivering a campaign that enhances business goals and serves the company’s strategy and positioning should be.

Many times companies will seek out something “different” for their brand. They want something memorable and fresh. That’s fine, but they tend to forget to make sure that the memorable campaign is first and foremost aligned with the company’s branding and focused on meeting strategic objectives. That becomes challenging if a company hasn’t defined their brand, or simply disregards it to chase after award-winning creative concepts.

One of the things our agency does is work with clients to develop their brand strategy and position. If you don’t know where the rational and emotional connection is between your brand and your customers, you can’t develop creative campaigns that truly connect with your audience. You may develop very memorable creative ideas, but chances are your actual customers may not like them, and may not remember the campaign was even for your company.

Take the 2016 “Puppy Monkey Baby” Super Bowl commercial, for example. I’m betting most everyone remembers the visual, or has at least heard of it. But does anyone remember what the ad was FOR? And, did you connect with it?

The answer is no. Although the ad had over ten million online views less than 24 hours after it aired, no one remembers that it was promoting Mountain Dew’s Kickstart drink. The company claims Kickstart is “three awesome things combined,” just like the puppy monkey baby.

But “awesome” was not the word that viewers or consumers used, “disturbing” was. So disturbing that the commercial scored some of the lowest audience favorability ratings of all the Super Bowl ads this year.

On a creative level that ad was a huge success – everyone was talking about it and it got tons of views after it aired. But on a strategic level, it was an epic fail, with customers actively disliking the commercial and not connecting it to the product.

Advertising is a big part of most marketing budgets. Don’t waste your money chasing creative that doesn’t actually promote your brand. Make sure your agency understands your company, your brand and your audience. Or just talk to me – we won’t sell you an idea that scares your customers.