What Does it Take to be Creative?

That’s a question we asked Arun Sudhaman, managing editor of The Holmes Report on the heels of a study about creativity his publication conducted with creativity experts Now Go Create and sponsored by our Omnicom sister agency Ketchum.

One of the findings that caught MMC’s attention was that the 650 interviewees named three campaigns MMC has worked on out of the 12 they cited as “best example of a creative PR campaign that drove business results over the past 18 months.”  These were:  P&G Moms, Head & Shoulders with Troy Polamalu and Depend Great American Try On.

So we followed up with Arun recently to ask him a few more questions about creativity in PR campaigns.  Here’s what he had to say.

Q:  Are you seeing any new trends in creative campaigns? 

A:  There are two trends that we’re seeing.  One is an increase in integrated marketing communications programs, particularly in consumer marketing. While a campaign might begin with a “PR Idea,” many campaigns, particularly those in consumer marketing, include the whole gamut of marketing communications.

The second trend is the importance of purpose, or social marketing.  To stand out in a crowded marketplace, marketers need to demonstrate that they care about people’s lives – not just their products.   An excellent example of this is a campaign Electrolux did called “Vac from the Sea.” Electrolux’s idea was to recycle plastic debris from the ocean and turn it into vacuum cleaners to draw attention to the issue of plastic ocean waste.  As one of the world’s biggest appliance makers, Electrolux had a natural stake in the idea as the company uses recycled plastics in its appliances.

Of course, not every campaign has to be purpose driven.  The last thing you want to do is align with a purpose that’s not authentic to your company or product.  And just as many campaigns that have tried to tap into a cause fail as succeed. It really depends on how the campaign is developed and executed.

Q:  Are you seeing an increase in the central idea for integrated campaigns coming from PR?

A:  Yes, but those ideas aren’t necessarily coming from PR agencies.  Often they come from the advertising agency.

You can almost count on two hands the big ideas coming from the PR industry.  A big part of the challenge is that clients may not be willing to accept ideas that drive an integrated campaign from the PR agency. Clients may say they don’t care where the big idea comes from, but I think they really do care — they expect them to come from the ad agency.

Whenever we interview CMOs, they always say they want more ideas from their PR agencies.  It’s hard to believe that PR agencies aren’t coming up with those ideas. I think it’s a matter of PR agencies doing a better job of articulating how the idea can solve a client’s marketing challenge.

Check back tomorrow to see what Arun has to say about how PR agencies can be more creative.

Image courtesy of The Holmes Report