Can Marketing Science and Creativity Coexist?


There appears to be some in our industry who think that applying marketing science learnings to advertising will kill our ability to be creative.

Marketing science has informed us that advertising can work in many different ways but if there's one you should focus on it's making your brand a little more memorable at the right times.

This is the mental availability model and of all the theories, principles and methods I've ever come across, it is the most empowering for a creative.

It tells us that there are a few important things you need to do to get the job done for a brand.

In short; get your advertising noticed by consumers and then, once you have their attention, link the brand to a buying situation in a memorable way.

It's not a complicated or restrictive process.

It reminds you of the function of advertising, but it doesn’t overly control the form of the creative.

There are times when this calls upon simple, straightforward work and times when big ideas are necessary.

Creative isn’t black or white, it’s fifty shades of grey and a dial that we need to work out how far we turn up or down, for the right brands at the right times.

As Dave Trott notes, it’s important though that we don’t fall in love with the execution and forget the reason for advertising in the first place.

This is what the mental availability model allows us to do.

It provides us with an objective way of reviewing creative without overly interfering with the art and the magic of it.

As long as those pillars are used, the creative has a little more freedom.

It also allows clients to judge the work with some rational measures and helps them to avoid getting caught up in the subjectivity of the creative used.

With the guidelines of marketing science, there are actually some objective measures that they can use to judge the work:

  • Have you used a category entry point?

  • Are the best distinctive brand assets being used?

  • Will people be prepared to watch this repeatedly (if it’s video)?

  • If it’s a campaign, is it consistent across the various executions?

Frankly, if you feel like any of these are suppressing your creativity then you’re probably in the wrong industry.

When the advertising isn’t based on persuading people through the brand’s positioning, but is instead focused on building salience by refreshing and building memory structures, you’re also able to focus more on the creative techniques such as humour or surprise.

So science and creativity can both do their thing. They can coexist and the advertising can be better for it.

It's not science fiction.

Well actually, at our agency, that's exactly what we call it.

Matt Arbon