1. 1. 2023
If the economists are on the money, we’re set for a roller coaster ride in 2023. There will be the ups: inflation, interest rates and maybe your blood pressure as you’re reading this. And the downs: house prices, consumer confidence and, based on what we’re all reading, Twitter.

Even if we dodge a full-blown recession, the advertising and marketing community is already feeling the effects.

Luckily, we have a powerful tool to help us ride out the ups and downs to emerge stronger than before. That tool is creativity.

Past economic downturns have demonstrated the importance of investing in brands to sustain ongoing business outcomes.

At the heart of brand investment is storytelling. And at the heart of storytelling is creativity.

Long-lasting and impactful brand platforms require clever, creative thinking. Consider the Effie Award-winning brands Uber Eats, Telstra and Suncorp. Their marketing demonstrates brands that are in it for the long run – rather than trying to make a quick buck on the cheap – will thrive.

Suncorp is a perfect example. The insurance brand flipped the script for a traditionally low-touch category with its “One house to save many” initiative. The work is based on a stunningly simple and yet powerful insight: 97 per cent of disaster funding is spent on repairing and rebuilding but only 3 per cent is spent on prevention.

To bring this insight to life creatively, Suncorp partnered with Leo Burnett, the CSIRO, James Cook University and Room 11 Architects to create a house built to withstand extreme weather conditions. It’s a great example of how a brand can offer a positive solution for its customers. It resonated so strongly, it captured the attention of every major Australian news network. It did this by tapping into a primal emotion – hope.

Also demonstrating a long-term commitment to customers via emotional creative is Telstra. Created by The Monkeys, the telco’s first dedicated brand campaign in five years, Australia Is Why, shines a light on how it is supporting Australia; from diverse communities to investment in regional infrastructure and sponsorship of organisations such as The Australian Ballet. The creative earned several Effie Awards and helped The Monkeys win Effective Agency of the Year.

Effective creative works because it makes the audience feel. A study conducted by Professor Karen Nelson-Field found ads that generate a strong reaction – whether positive or negative – command 16 per cent more attention than ads that don’t make us feel anything. The research also found emotive ads deliver more than twice the sales impact.

Similar research by Peter Field and Les Binet found emotionally charged creative is almost twice as likely to result in large profit effects than purely rational ads. The findings align with the duo’s most famous guidance for brands, the 60:40 rule. If brand building is the emotional element of your advertising mix, activation is the rational. This means you should be trying to make your audience feel things 60 per cent of the time.

Of course, creative can also work through humour, surprise and delight.

Uber Eats’ famed brand campaign is a splendid example of that. Over the past six years, with help from Special Group, the brand has featured a host of celebrities announcing their dinner orders, coining a now iconic catch-phrase, “Tonight I’ll be eating ...”

Yes, it’s a clever message. But in truth, it’s the creative that sells it. Who expected Kath and Kim’s Sharon Strzelecki to be speaking to that Kim? And the combination of Paris Hilton and the Irwin family is equal parts jaw-dropping and rib-tickling, as is the frustration of Simon Cowell, aka the “Grey Wiggle”, sorting out “family” dinner.

It's little wonder it took just a year for the campaign to propel Uber Eats from a distant fourth to market leader and deliver unprompted brand awareness of more than 90 per cent. A Grand Effie Award-winning display of creativity we can all learn from.

As we head into 2023, making emotional connections with your audience is what will set you apart. And the way to do that is through long-term, branding-building creative.

So, when you need to tighten the purse strings in the new year, the research and results are clear – be bold, think big and whatever else happens, don’t skimp on creativity.


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