The Case of Creative Myopia

by Jason Falls |

Great advertising can often be found at the balance between art and science. Compelling creative drives curiosity. Testing optimizes response. Revised creative drives action. Rinse and repeat and you’ve got yourself a pretty successful campaign.

The same is true for social media communications. Whether it’s content in the form of a blog post or Tweet, video or mobile application, the creative — either copy or art or a combination of the two — elicits the initial response. Measurement and testing, like with compelling advertising, should then be implemented to ensure the audience is responding in the intended fashion. The creative can then be revised and optimized, often through multiple iterations, to ensure the communications goals are being met.

But a funny thing happens on the way to the billboard … or blog post. We sometimes forget the second half of the equation. Whether it’s advertising agencies so impressed with their own brilliance or social media content experts tickled with the thought-provoking post just penned … we set it and forget it. Creative concepts come to life and we think that’s the end … until it’s time to change out the creative. Sometimes its our fault. Sometimes its the client wishes. Sometimes its just the frenzy of too much, too often, and we let it slip.

tunnel
Image by jugbo via Flickr

I call this creative myopia. It’s the process of focusing so much on the art that you forget the science. Favoring one lessens the effectiveness of the effort. And creative myopia can lessen the effort in a huge way. Ever seen a beautiful advertisement that you couldn’t determine what it was for or what it wanted you to do? Creative myopia at play.

In the advertising world this often manifests itself with agencies or campaigns run by “artists.” (Pronounced “art-teests.”) The über-creative who border on art snobs often lose themselves in the majesty of the work and forget that the rest of the world isn’t Robert Hughes. For most people (me included), art is a delightful distraction from the mundane. We can appreciate a beautiful picture or painting, get lost in a wonderful song or even appreciate a good theatrical production. But we’re not artists. And we don’t think like them.

Artists will tell you that the color blue often conveys a sense of calm. And while a bank’s logo in the lower corner of a field of blue hydrangea may be wonderfully artistic, to most of the world it’s an advertisement for blue hydrangea. Or the Bank of WTF?, Member FDIC. Still, the artist will see that the image conveys trust and calm. You can feel safe putting your money in this bank.

Creative myopia.

Mind you, this is not a criticism of art directors or copywriters. The creative in advertising, as well as that which fuels good social media marketing communications, is critically important. And good creative almost always wins … to an extent. But forgetting about the testing, teasing and trying new variables will get you stuck in the tunnel.

What do you do to avoid creative myopia? Do you test and tinker? Do your results make you change the approach? The copy? The art?

Does your agency avoid creative myopia with its advertising communications? How?

Share your thoughts, approaches and ideas in the comments. Perhaps we can all see with a wider lens together.

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).