Does Creative Advertising Matter?
Brian D. Till and Daniel W. Baack ABSTRACT: Creativity is an important component of advertising. This research examines the potential effectiveness of creative advertising in enhancing recall, brand attitude, and purchase intent. Our basic methodology compares a set of randomly selected award-winning commercials (Communication Arts) with a random sample of control commercials. The commercials were embedded in television programs and subjects for a naturalistic viewing experience. Studies 1 and 2 had aided and unaided brand and execution recall as dependent variables. For Study 3, brand attitude and purchase intent were the dependent variables of interest. Results indicated that creative commercials facilitate unaided recall, but that creativity did not enhance aided recall, purchase intent, or brand and advertisement attitude. The basic advantage of creative advertising in enhancing unaided recall was found to persist over a one-week delay.
Creativity is arguably a very important component of advertising. Advertising agencies pride themselves on industry awards, which are often focused more on the creativity of the advertising than brand performance. Past research on the topic has ranged from focusing on formulaic scales of creativity (e.g., Barron 1988; Kneller 1965; White and Smith 2001) to discussing creative strategy in holistic terms (e.g.. Bell 1992; Blasko and Mokwa 1986). A small number of empirical studies of creative advertising have been completed (e.g., Ang and Low 2000; Kover, Goldberg, and James 1995; Kover, James, and Sonner 1997; Pieters, Warlop, and Wedel 2002; Stone, Besser, and Lewis 2000; White and Smith 2001), but the studies, while individually interesting, taken as a whole, have not portrayed a particularly cohesive or comprehensive understanding of creative advertising. As one article stated, "in all, advertising creativity research is limited, abstract, and fairly recent in suggesting that this advertising dimension deserves additional investigation" (Stone, Besser, and Lewis 2000, p. 8). Most important, few of the studies address the relation between creative advertising and effectiveness. Therefore, while this past work has made an important contribution, the effectiveness of creative advertisements is not much better understood now than it was 40 years ago. This study begins to address this gap by focusing on award-winning television advertising (in this case. Communication Arts award
winners) and relevant measures of advertising effectiveness— recall, purchase intent, and attitude toward the brand. CREATIVITY A N D ADVERTISING Advertising is the only profession where the central figure in the business process is titled a "creative," illustrating the focus placed on creativity in the advertising process. Although creativity in advertising is widely recognized as very important, the link between creativity and advertising effectiveness has not been extensively examined. The first academic work on creativity began with Kneller's 1965 book. The Art and Science of Creativity. This early work on this topic is typified by the "aha" definition in Parnes (1975), and these early papers concentrate on simple discussions and deflnitions of creativity. Work in the late 1980s through the 1990s broke from this trend and began introducing more sophisticated definitions of creativity (e.g., Barron 1988; MacKinnon 1987). During this same time period, research began to experimentally investigate the effectiveness of "creative" advertisements. A variety of operationalizations for creativity emerged in this research, including the use of advertising awardwinners as a proxy for creativity (e.g., Kover, Goldberg, and James 1995). This method is based on the concept that creativity is, in the end, a subjective concept best evaluated by professionals (Amabile 1982). Therefore, if the judges of these awards determine that the advertisement is creative enough...