Creativity Opportunity #46: Differences between good and not-so-good creative.

“I wish the percentage of good work were higher.”

I was working with my friend – creative legend Tom Hall – on something we’re calling “Tom & Dave Review the Ads.” Siskel & Ebert, but with ads. We are observing there are an equal number of good and not-so-good campaigns. Which caused us to think about how those two poles come to exist.

Here are some of our thoughts:

Good creative

  • Clearly started with an insightful creative strategy: knowledge and understanding about the target audience and their relationship with our offering, in particular.
  • More about the target than the brand. In some cases, that ratio was close to 90% target. But the brand was the hero.
  • Single-minded and simple. Not burdened by trying to communicate the “four foundational pillars of our organization.”
  • Smart and clever in its execution. But simple. And not trying too hard.


  • The strategy seemed be “let us tell you about us.” If there was a target audience, we couldn’t often figure it out, other than someone that might use the product/service being featured.
  • Heavily about the brand. In some cases, that ratio was 90% us about us.
  • No priority of messaging. Lots of information with no lead idea.
  • The execution was either “blah-blah-blah” about us, or in some cases so overly in love with itself that we barely knew what it saying and why (e.g: the video for the appropriately labelled HYPE energy drink with Kim Kardashian)

It was pretty simple once we talked about.

Good work: a single idea with a clear understanding of the target that was executed in a smart, simple way.

Not so good work: a litany of messages about you, and/or creative for the sake of creative.

If you wish for a higher percentage of the creative you do to be in the “Good Work” category, let’s talk.

Create opportunities for better creative. Go to Get Better Creative and learn about the workshop where, in one day, your team will become marketing communications rock stars. Talk with Dave Hamel, Principal of Get Better Creative and lead of the American Marketing Association’s “Successfully Managing the Creative Process” about getting better creative: 312.623.5567.