Advertising Creativity Matters
Stockholm School of
Could "wasteful" advertising creativity that does not add to the functionaiity of the advertisement (i.e., it neither enhances recaii and iiking of the advertising, nor
increases comprehension and persuasiveness of the communicated message) be useful? An expérimentai study shows that it can. By signaling greater effort on behaif
Stockholm School of
of the advertiser and a greater ability of the brand, advertising creativity enhances both brand interest and perceived brand quaiity. The effects are mediated by consumer-perceived creativity, suggesting that consumers are important Judges of
creativity. Bringing advertising creativity into new iight, the resuits provide impiications
Stockholm School of
for the development, measurement, and positioning of creative advertising.
There is no guarantee that creativity in an advertisement makes it more memorable or appealing to consumers (Kover, Goldberg, and James, 1995).
In fact, research by, for example, Kover, James,
and Sonner (1997) suggests that many creative
advertising efforts may be wasted, in the sense
that they do not add to the functionality of the
advertisement (i.e., they neither enhance consumer recall and liking of the advertising, nor increase comprehension and persuasiveness of the
communicated message). However, this article argues that such wasteful advertising creativity may have other positive effects. Previous research on
advertising spending has found that, when bypassing functional aspects of high spending, for example, that bigger advertisements increase attention or that repeated exposures facilitate comprehension and breed liking, wasteful expenses have positive effects on brand perceptions (e.g..
Ambler and HoUier, 2004; Kirmani and Rao, 2000).
The present research investigates whether or not
the same conclusion follows with respect to advertising creativity. A common view is that creativity is a mission of
the entire advertising industry, its raison d'être
(Koslow, Sasser, and Riordan, 2003). The fact that
3 9 2 JDÜBOIIL OF (IDÜERTISinG BESEflRCH September 2 0 0 8
advertising agencies spend a great deal of time
and energy competing for creative awards, even
though they are not sure that these efforts actually
increase the functionality of their work, suggests
that creativity is perceived to be important in its
own right (e.g., Helgesen, 1994; Kover, James, and
Sonner, 1997). In a frequently cited study. Gross
(1972) showed that wasteful advertising creativity
in advertising agencies, in the form of an abundance of creative ideas, yield more effective advertisements in the long run. This article takes the notion of wasteful advertising creativity to the
level of the individual advertisement to see whether
an abundance of creativity (that does not enhance
functionality) in a single advertisement yields positive effects. Building on the research on marketing signals,
we suggest it does. Studies show that the very
employment of various marketing elements, such
as warranties (long-lasting) or price (correlates
with quality), sends signals about the brand that
guide consumer evaluations and choice (e.g., Kirmani and Rao, 2000). Advertising expense has been found to be a signal that consumers interpret
as the marketers' efforts due to their belief in the
brand (Kirmani, 1990; Kirmani and Wright, 1989)
or as proof of the brand's superiority or "brand
ADVERTISING CREATIVITY MÄHERS
fitness" (Amhler and Hollier, 2004): The
greater the expense, the more confident
the marketer and the more fit the brand.
Categorizing advertising creativity as a
marketing signal, we expect that greater
creativity signals more effort (as creative
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"Exploring t he D imensions of Ad C reativity,"
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MICAEL DAHLÉN is a professor of marketing at the
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4 0 2 JOÜBÜfiL OF BDÜEBTISinG RESERRCH September 2 0 0 8
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