The Habits of Highly Creative Marketers

Leaders Behind Out-of-the Box Campaigns Share Secrets to Making Winning Work

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In the second report of The Creativity Report quarterly series, we talked to some of the smartest brand and agency leaders about how to get great creative work

Think outside the box. Let go. Take a risk. Obviously, there's some element of truth to the platitudes about creativity and marketing. But really, what does it take to come up with truly innovative and effective ideas? In Creativity /Advertising Age's latest Creativity Report, we talked to the industry's smartest brand and agency leaders to pinpoint the most important characteristics of highly creative and -- as a result -- successful marketers.

You'll find the full list of habits of highly creative marketers -- eight of them, at least -- and in-depth stories on these campaigns and other breakthrough work inthe second issue of The Creativity Report series. Purchase this individual report, or subscribe to the quarterly series, which includes access to Creativity

One of those, ironically, is that "Creativity isn't everything." Those words come straight from Domino's CMO Russell Weiner, who orchestrated the soul-baring "Pizza Turnaround" effort with CP&B, and a more recent Times Square campaign in which Domino's customers could post comments about the brand's delivery service in real time, in the big lights of a Times Square billboard. "Base the creative solution in something not creative -- which is real business insights, real consumer insights, real data insights -- and use those as a springboard," Mr. Weiner said.

"There's no such thing as creative for creative's sake." That thinking is especially important to keep in mind in terms of the marketer-agency relationship as well. "When you have a super creative agency, if you don't have a strategy ... it almost exacerbates the problem," Mr. Weiner added.

Another highly creative marketer, Heineken, demonstrated this approach in its "Star Player" campaign, which, along with the other efforts shown here, is one of the fine specimens featured in the Creativity Report's roundup of the second quarter's best work.

Not only are they innovative ideas all around, they're the kind of solutions that happen when the right creative habits kick in.

Heineken, 'Star Player'
Agency: AKQA, London
The lesson from Domino's Mr. Weiner also proved helpful for AKQA, London, when it turned out one of the year's most exciting efforts, Heineken Star Player, a dual screening effort that puts football fans in competition with each other as they watch matches on the tube or at the stadium by having them predict scores and players' next moves. The agency based its solution on real consumer insight. AKQA Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer James Hilton explained: "Nobody's going to the pubs to watch the Champions League. Most of them are staying at home to watch it on their own. People aren't connecting." The game solved that problem by letting players compete and sound off with friends from the comfort of their own couches.

Deutsche Post, 'Social Memories'
Agency: Cosalux
What business does a post office have launching a Facebook book? Germany's Deutsche Post could have taken that foggy approach. But the brand's department of innovation wasn't afraid of making a digital leap with agency Cosalux. It found a way to translate people's Facebook activity into a book full of gorgeous data-viz pieces showing how they spent time on the social-networking site. "It represented an opportunity to enter social media with something grounded in the brand's history. It's always been the bearer of people's thoughts and feelings on postcards and in letters, and 'Social Memories' is the digital extension of that ," said Cosalux Art Director Stephen Horner.

Wrigley 5, 'User-Generated Projection Mapping'
Agency: Tribal DDB
Being a "team player" doesn't just mean embracing talent under your own roof. It's also about inviting more of the right people in. That kind of teamwork helped realize an unusual projection-mapping effort out of Tribal DDB South Africa, which invited users to create their own displays on digital buildings online that were later showcased on the real-world structures during a pair of live events. Matt Ross, chief creative officer at Tribal DDB, South Africa, brought in digital production shop North Kingdom and events company Seed Experiences to help execute. "The model of having massive in-house development teams within a full-service agency is dead," Mr. Ross said. "There is no way that a tech department can keep up with all the tech advancements being made yearly."

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