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Creating Advertisements

Having discussed the market and marketing and the research associated with marketing operations, we are now in a position to discuss the communication component of marketing or advertisements. How are advertisements created? What goes into the making of an effective advertisement? What are the disciplines and the kind of mind required to create effective advertisements?

After looking at the links, most of you would probably first clicked here first. This is the area, which appeals to most people wanting to enter the advertising profession. It conjures up pictures of a world of glamour and glitter; of the esoteric few, in which you can give full rein to what you believe to be your unrecognized creative talent, and so on. This is understandable, because everyone of us believes that one has an element of creativity which just needs an opportunity" to find an avenue for expression and then universal recognition. From the world of creativity of advertising a far more esoteric world, a far more glamorous world, a far more exciting world, where money flows like water, is expected to open up for you.

Creativity in advertising is a highly specialized area. It involves the creation of the most effective message to motivate a consumer to buy a particular product or service, not once, but again and again. This means the creation of such messages year after year, often for the same product or service in the face of increasing competition. It is also the most challenging. With the growing proliferation of and possibilities offered by the electronic audio-visual media, there are openings for a wide variety of skills and talents for creative expression of ideas. This is possibly the most talent-intensive area of advertising, demanding training in and a total grasp of various specialized areas of mass communication. Training, however, can only help sharpen and give a direction to inherent talent or flair. It should be obvious from the fact that this chapter is placed after eight chapters discussing various aspects of advertising and marketing, that here there is no free play for imagination and creativity. The concept of the free market does not operate in this area; instead, the actual market disciplines creativity. Imagination and innovative ideas have to serve the demands of the communication needs of the market, the product or the service.

An advertisement whatever the medium for which it is created-visual or audio-visual is not the result of the imagination or inventiveness of a single individual. In an advertising agency, a creative team prepares advertisements or persuasive communication or creatively interprets the advertising objective that is derived from the marketing objective. Thus it is the market, and the product in relation to it, which provides the seed for the creative inspiration to flower. In a sense, from the very beginning, creativity in advertising is tainted with the environment of the market place, the very mundane issues of profit. At the entrance to the studio of an advertising agency should be written the following: "All who enter here leave behind all dreams of an unfettered expression of your creative talent or genius."

Once again to begin at the beginning: What is creativity? The dictionary meaning of the word is "inventive, imaginative, showing imagination as well as native skill." The two fundamental aspects are imagination and creative skill. Creativity is a combination of imagination and natural skill. If these two elements are there, these can be sharpened through training and observation and of course, experience.

How does the creative process work? How are products of the imagination born and given physical shape? Very little is really known about it. This is true even of a writer or a painter or of all the creators of art. One -could possibly say that the essence of creativity or the creative process is the interaction, even a kind of conflict, between the creator and the external reality. A creative person is constantly trying to absorb and rise above the external reality and is in the process influencing it and being influenced by it. In the crucible of the creative mind the external reality is transformed into something different, without losing its basic features. This is what appeals to the viewer, listener or reader. Under the influence of a creative work we begin to look at the external reality from a different angle, as also our relationship with it. We are even motivated at times to change the external reality.

About good writing, it has been said: "Knowledge is the foundation and source of good writing." If this is true of good writing, particularly creative writing in general, it is more so of persuasive and motivational communication concerned with people. Knowledge is much more than book knowledge. Primarily, it is knowledge of people, their social and cultural world and their behavior within this world of theirs. We talk of the individual will, but it is molded by society. It is, however, true, that once molded, the individual will can transcend the limitations of existing society and even transform it. This is a continuing process. Exposure to varied experiences of life enriches creative talent. In reality creativity feeds on such experience. This is true of every creative person. Other inputs to creativity include interests and wide reading in a variety of subjects. One must have a deep interest in and be a perceptive observer of the social scene. Above all, a creative person is highly sensitive to people's feelings and moods, their wants, fears, hopes, aspirations. This is most vital for a creative communicator with the objective of moving people into action. Creative persons must be able to probe the depths of the mind of their audience. This is because all the driving forces of an action of every individual pass through his or her brain and transform themselves into motivations to drive him or her into action. External stimuli can trigger this unconscious motivation.

For creative marketing communication, this is not enough because it is creativity within a specific framework. It is concerned with people in relati6n to specific products or services in a specific marketing situation. Mere exposure to a variety of experiences or knowledge is not enough. You have to saturate yourself with all the relevant information. This would involve understanding of people in a particular context, as buyers of a particular product or service and their behavior pattern in relation to it, particularly the circumstances under or environment in which they best absorb ideas. You have to combine your understanding of the people, of a particular segment of society, at a given moment of time and in space, with the deepest possible knowledge of the product or service. You have to relate these two understandings. An advertisement is a creative interpretation of this knowledge. The creative process in advertising does not begin with an idea or a concept and then attempt to fit in knowledge about people and products and services into it. It is the result of a profound and infinite interaction between such knowledge and the creative mind. In the non-commercial field of creativity such interaction can often find spontaneous expression. Sometimes one has to wait for an inspiration. In advertising there is no room for spontaneity or the time to wait for an inspiration. One has always to work against time.

Creativity in advertising is facing a major challenge today. The demands on it are not only appreciation by the consumers, but their acceptance of the credibility of the benefits offered by the particular brand. The challenge has become more acute because differentiations between brands are narrowing. In reality, quality-wise, there is practically no difference between different brands of high-priced textiles, for example. It is no longer enough for the words and the visuals to describe the benefits to be derived from the product or service most forcefully. The consumer has to be involved and drawn into the environment created by the advertisement. The consumer must be compelled to identify with the environment and the product or service or associate with it as part of the aspiration for a particular lifestyle.

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