My Position on Creative Advertising

With my one hundred year background experience gleaned by studying the history of direct response advertising (mail order, direct mail, and print advertising)… my position on ‘creative’ advertising is this:

Combining an accurate well researched copy platform with the right mix of campaign execution, is far different from being ‘creative’.

This is vitally important to me as a direct marketer and copywriter.

‘Creative’ agencies often miss the potency and necessity of tying the product with the markets state of awareness (needs/wants) and their level of sophistication (how defined the offer is, how many times the prospect has been exposed to it, or similar offers from competitors).

You might be interested to know that David Ogilvy quoted Rosser Reeves as saying

“creativity is the most dangerous word in advertising”.


Because it is equally important for innovative marketing success as it is a cause for possible marketing failure.

Advertising and marketing must suitably match the buying process of the target market.

It is from that direct response copywriting perspective that allowed me the 510% response increase (1900% ROI) at an Ad Agency – after which the Marketing Director had me prepare copywriting training for her staff.

Read more about the distinction between ‘creating’ and ‘connecting’ in marketing.

A Warning About 'Creativity' In Business

‘Creativity’ is not the miraculous road to business growth and affluence that is so abundantly claimed these days… Those who extol the liberating virtues of corporate creativity… tend to confuse the getting of ideas with their implementation – that is, confuse creativity in the abstract with practical innovation.Theodore Levitt, ‘Creativity Is Not Enough’ (1963)

As a copywriter, the immortal words of Rosser Reeves always come to mind.  ‘Creativity is the most dangerous word in advertising’.

And another great copywriter Gene Schwartz said of creativity vs connectivity:

Creation is a lousy word.  It’s a lousy word that confuses what you really do to perform a simple little procedure.  Creation means create something out of nothing… only God can do that

Let’s talk about connectivity – connecting things together.  New means never joined before. The creativity is in your market and in your product, and all you are doing is joining the two together.

Of course this goes against the grain of mass popularity and Above The Line brand advertising.  But that’s because of the lack of discipline, effort, and understanding of so called brand advertisers, short-copy copywriters, and general marketing managers.

Many years ago I read a book by Robert Fritz called ‘Creating’.  I read his other books including The Path of Least Resistance for Managers (highly recommended).

In his genius body of work, Robert Fritz identifies an efficient process for innovation and creativity that protects against the danger warned by Rosser Reeves and Gene Schwartz’ of creativity easily extending beyond its validity.

Fritz identifies a clear-cut process that maintains a natural flexibility for controlling innovation.  Get my Productivity and Efficiency Report for details.

Truth Behind The Unique Selling Proposition

Having worked with various grades of copywriter and marketer, one of the funniest, and ironic things I hear relate to the so called USP.

Little do most copywriters know that the phrase Unique Selling Proposition was coined by a long-copy direct response copywriter, Rosser Reeves, who identified three criteria that a so-called USP have have to really be a USP:

  1. It must contain a proposition (a benefit that people are willing to pay for) ?
  2. The benefit must be unique (not the same thing a competitor says about his/her product), and ?
  3. It must sell (be powerful enough to move the masses).

Now without getting into a major rant, my observations have unfortnately shown me that most copywriters, advertisers and marketers seem to fake it.

Many so called USPs make a half-assed attempt at identifying a benefit to the prospect. But they are often claims that can be made by other companies and products. And they do not really serve the job of selling the product either.

When discussing USPs in company meetings, be sure to use the above check-list for guidance from Rosser Reeves.

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