Creativity gap not really all that wide

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A "broadside" report released late last month by The Dave and Alex Show, a New York-based marketing communications company, lambasts the industry for its lack of creativity. "The Creativity Crisis: A Pretty-Much Subjective Analysis of Quality in Business-to-Business Advertising" looked at 187 full-page and larger print ads in six b-to-b magazines. Its conclusion? Nearly 80% of the ads were judged to be "poor." Only 3% were deemed "excellent."

"Why are the ads in business magazines … filled with gutless and predictable headlines, bad widget photographs and soporific language … ?" asks the agency’s 12-page tabloid brochure, which makes several valid points while being brash and irreverent.

But, really, it’s not all that bleak. Just last week, the Chicago chapter of the Business Marketing Association celebrated its 20th annual Tower Awards for creative excellence.

It was my honor to serve as the keynote speaker for the event, which was held in conjunction with the opening-night reception of the BMA International Conference in Chicago. The Tower Awards competition attracted nearly 300 entries from 59 companies in 31 categories, and there were plenty of terrific efforts.

"There’s a growing group of creative work that’s rooted in understanding whom you are talking to and what they’re interested in, and making a human connection," said Gordon Hochhalter, co-managing partner of Mobium Creative Group, which took home the Tower’s 2003 best of show award, as well as gold awards in 11 categories.

Hochhalter said creative work is now polarized between this vanguard and "old style" campaigns that "tell people what to believe."

It has been a good month for Mobium, which last week was named 2003 Agency of the Year by the BMA. (See Page 3 for a Q&A with Mobium co-founders Hochhalter and Guy Gangi.)

Creativity matters to BtoB readers. How else can one explain the decades-old popularity of The Chasers page? On Page 38 this month, The Chasers assess hotel advertising targeting the coveted business traveler.


I’m thrilled to announce the launch this month of BtoB’s Media Business. The magazine, which will go monthly in September, is written exclusively for publishing industry senior executives. You can subscribe to the magazine’s free newsletter at

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