Is Creativity Just Another Commodity?

Marc Babej, president of Reason inc., is tired of all the creative window dressing. He skewers Wieden, Crispin, FCB and Publicis for blathering on about “creativity”.
He also brings to light this classic Ogilvyism:

“If you spend your advertising budget entertaining the consumer, you’re a bloody fool. Housewives don’t buy a new detergent because the manufacturer told a joke on television last night. They buy the new detergent because it promises a benefit.” -David Ogilvy

In an interesting response to Ogilvy’s admonition, Fresh Glue isn’t having it.

Fortunately, housewives (and househusbands) will buy detergent in a creative vehicle. Ask Method, maker of yuppie soaps and detergents. Are their creative packaging and company identity a “tangible difference?” I say yes. They’re what we call a non-rational benefit. They satisfy a desire that doesn’t include clean dishes. Method’s identity differentiates a banal product by delivering a “benefit” that has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual soap. Under this theory, Method chalked up sales of $25 million in the 52 weeks ending Aug. 7, 2005.
Which demonstrates that, indeed, creativity and effectiveness can be synonymous.

I’ll add to this debate the notion that 99.99% of agency web sites–the place where “creativity” is most often espoused–currently in existence suck ass, including sites by agencies whose work is otherwise outstanding. Which is ironic, given that you’d think agency personnel would be eager to turn their brand-building abilities on themselves, but no.
I do like La Comunidad’s site a lot. Yes, even in Flash.
[UPDATE] On second thought, the long load time on La Comunidad’s site significantly diminishes the user experience. Content, good. Execution, bad.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Fyi, I’ve just posted a follow-up. Rosser Reeves’s take on creativity, from his out-of-print Reality in Advertising.