By Suzanne Basra, Content & Internal Communications Manager at Ogilvy UK

Have you ever wondered what drives fame and fortune for brands? Or why short-termism is inhibiting commercial effectiveness? This week, Ogilvy UK hosted a breakfast session dedicated to the latest insights and provocative thoughts on what drives effective communications from a diverse range of speakers.

Hosted by Ogilvy UK Strategy Lead, Brian Sassoon, the morning featured talks from IPA Effectiveness Consultant Peter Field, Wavemaker Chief Product Officer Alex Steer, Ogilvy Consulting’s Global Principal Joanna Seddon and Ogilvy UK’s own Chief Creative Officer Dede Laurentino and Vice Chairman Rory Sutherland.

Here are the top five tips to drive greater creative and effective communications from our speakers.

We need to play the long game

The IPA’s Effectiveness Consultant, Peter Field began the morning by calling for a stop on the slide to creative ineffectiveness. IPA figures show creativity is at its lowest average effectiveness for 24 years. But why has this become the case?

A large contributing factor in the decline of creative effectiveness lies in the fact that creative good practice is being overwhelmed by creative bad practice. A focus on short-termism has meant that brands are wrongly focusing on creating short-term commercial value. If we want to achieve greater creative effectiveness, Peter believes that above all, we need to “stop encouraging disposable creativity and tactical ideas and media usage focused on short-term effects”.  

The truly effective communications for brands are those that are driven by a long-term outlook on high performing pieces of communication, versus a short-term outlook on poor performers. “Creating emotional associations around brands drives growth because people are ever more powerfully drawn to a brand” says Peter. He argues that we should be rewarding strategic ideas that are in market long enough to truly transform brands.

Creative effectiveness through analytics

“The enemy of effectiveness is not maths or code. The enemy of effectiveness is snake oil”. Wavemaker’s Chief Product Officer, Alex Steer, explained how we can apply analytics to help make creative more effective.

For Alex, the value of analytics is that they allow us to apply truths and consequences. “At its best, data can help remove hiding places” says Alex. This is a way for marketers to apply critical control and bite back at the snake oil.

But it’s not just about analytics. Adding to Peter’s argument for the value created by a long-term approach to creativity, Alex called for more effective uses of technology to deliver a higher impact in the long term. “Technology allows marketers to talk in a high impact way to a smaller group of people rather than using a cheap low-impact route to speak to lots of people” says Alex.

Trust the creatives

Making a plea for greater trust in creative teams, Ogilvy UK’s Chief Creative Officer, Dede Laurentino, argued that “If you try and get under the bonnet of everything you kill everything. Sometimes creativity just works.”

By highlighting some of the most famous creative ideas that cannot be explained through rational thinking, Dede highlighted how some creativity works simply because it does. The reasons for this are inexplicable. They are, as Dede puts it, “matters of the heart”. And they are behind some of the most powerful and effective campaigns of the past centuries.

Trust in creativity is a point that Rory Sutherland also touched on. “We’ll never make anything interesting if we have to test everything logically before we do it” he says. Add to this the fact that for Dede many good ideas have been killed in “the alter of consistency” and the picture of why creativity is becoming less effective is easy to see. From planners to clients, building greater trust in creative teams is essential if we are to come off the well-trodden ‘logical’ path and start to walk towards greater creative effectiveness.

Think in ways that others don’t

Rory argued for marketers to have the freedom to do things that don’t make sense. For Rory, “the gains come from thinking in a way that other people don’t”. To further illustrate this point, Rory drew on the issues of buying a property in London.

If we go on the assumption that many London buyers are concerned with proximity to a tube station, then the majority of buyers will be looking at the tube map to determine location. However, Rory argues that by taking the counterintuitive route, greater gains could be possible. Proximity to a rail station rather than a tube station could deliver a more attractive purchase, without compromising too greatly.

Thinking in the same way as everyone else will only lead you to the same answers as everyone else. Rory argues that the solutions to the most effective communications and creative ideas are found by thinking in ways that others don’t.

Show the money

Ogilvy Consulting Global Principal Joanna Seddon described how demonstrating the commercial value of communications can increase the impact that marketing can have. Why does this work? Joanna explains that it “makes non-marketing minded people able to understand that marketing and brand are important”.

This line of thinking is especially important considering some of the harder sells discussed by Dede and Rory. To encourage greater trust in creative teams and allow for marketers to follow counterintuitive thinking, it is important for the value of these methods to be understood.

Joanna's argument – linking brand and marketing to financial results – means that marketers can help boards to make the right, more effective marketing decisions, even when they may have previously taken the wrong path.