Partner Webinar: The cookieless marketing future with SVP Tony Vlismas - June 11

Yellow type writer and light bulb
Oct 23, 2023

What do clients crave from ad agencies? Creativity and authenticity

Dayna Lang
Author Dayna Lang

In an oversaturated market, brands need every edge they can get to stand out. When it comes time to form partnerships, these potential clients are very aware of the creativity and out-of-the-box thinking necessary in order to get ahead in the world of advertising. 

Ad agencies are working in a competitive market. Not only is it difficult to earn customer trust, it’s difficult to secure client’s in a market with so much choice. Brands look for several key indicators when selecting an agency partner, but one of the most important deciding factors is the creative potential of an agency. 

An article by Sara Lebow for eMarketer describes creative execution as “the No. 2 most important factor for US brand-side marketers when selecting an agency.” With unique and interesting ad ideas coming second only to price in the list of top considerations for brands. 


Building creativity into marketing strategy 

When looking to improve creativity, ad agencies need to carefully consider every element of an ad and how each element works together to create a unique experience for the consumer. 

Some important areas to consider when bolstering creative strategy are: 


Consider what story you want to tell and how are you going to tell it. Ask yourself: how is your idea different from your competitors’ approach? Also, keep in mind that ensuring ideas are fresh and freely formed allows for better creative output. 


What calls to action do you plan to include in your ad? It is important to build in opportunities for consumers to engage with and respond to your creative content. Strong campaigns encourage audiences to respond to conversations and interact with material, sometimes long before the conversion stage of the funnel. 

Visual elements 

Consider what visual elements you want to include and how these elements work to engage an audience, convey a message, and build a theme. Strong visual elements work together with other elements of the campaign to tell a story and create intrigue. 

Narrative elements

How does your strategy work to build a story and how does that story entertain and convey key brand messaging? Consider the stories that surround you in the world and how these narrative elements from daily life can be added to build a meaningful and memorable campaign. 


Why creativity from ad agencies matters

Creativity matters; it’s what engages audiences and turns prospective buyers into customers according to ad agencies. But in a market over-saturated with ads, producing content that stands out is even more important in ensuring a brand can stand the test of time. 

In a study of 437 TV advertising campaigns in Germany from January 2005 to October 2010, the Harvard Business Review explored the relationship between perceived creativity and sales figures. This study asked a panel of trained consumer raters to score German TV ads on a scale of 1 to 7 on a variety of creative dimensions. The relationship between these scores, the campaigns’ advertising budgets, and the following sales effectiveness was then examined. 

The study found that money spent on creative content directly translates into higher sales figures. The Harvard Business Review found that on average a single euro invested in highly creative campaigns had double the sales impact compared to non-creative campaigns. 

This study confirmed what many advertisers have assumed for years, creativity matters and producing unique, engaging marketing materials translates into greater conversion and longer lasting success. When attracting new clients, creativity is the ultimate asset for ad agencies. 

Great examples of creative advertising 


ad agencies: Casper's creative OOH ad
Subway puzzle out-of-home ad from Casper


A great example of creative marketing is Casper’s Puzzle campaign. This out-of-home campaign brilliantly engages customers on their daily commute. What it does particularity well is build activation to the ad creative, getting bored subway riders to work out the letter and image puzzles in order to decode the ads message. 

Capster’s CMO Jeff Brooks describes the ads as having played “a huge role in building awareness of the Casper brand…Even today, when I ask people how they heard about Casper, many say it was our memorable subway creative.”

These ads work because they engage their captive subway audience. These ads use fun visuals and brilliant puzzles to get potential customers thinking. While the audience might not run out and buy a mattress right away, this brand was playing the long game by building awareness. Next time these subway riders need a new bed, Casper is going to be front of mind. 


ad agencies: Marmite's creative OOH ad
Dynamite Chilli out-of-home ad from Marmite


Marmite’s creative use of 3D space makes this ad an attention grabbing, interactive experience. By building the aftermath of an explosion, Marmite easily sells the power of its Dynamite Chili. Ben Gardiner, the creative solutions director at Talon Outdoor, describes the ad as a “simple idea that can be translated in a single image that encapsulates the entire creative execution”

Similar to Casper’s ad, this creative works because it’s captivating. While Casper’s puzzles hold attention by asking customers to think, Marmite’s ad works by being bold and tactile. Who doesn’t stare at a smashed car as they walk by? The creative team behind this ad has cleverly used human curiosity to build a captivating campaign. 

Creativity in advertising is essential for grabbing and holding attention in a crowded landscape, which means brands are going to look for the most potential creativity when searching for an agency. In order to be the best of the best, pricing and potential have to both be present. This means having a portfolio of bold, innovative, note-worthy ads.


To see more from illumin, be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn where we share interesting news and insights from the worlds of ad tech and advertising.

Journey advertising made easy

Learn how illumin unlocks the power of journey advertising

Get started!