The Case for Creativity” book review.

Find below our review of “The Case for Creativity – Two decades’ evidence of the link between imaginative marketing and commercial success”. book written by James Hurman. ISBN 9780958299732

Reading this book was a big reminder and shout-out call to empower my clients to create powerful creative brand stories.



  • The greater the level of creativity the greater the level of effectiveness. Examples included the BMX bike sold on eBay with a highly creative copy for almost 5 times the buying price – also on eBay.
  • There is a high correlation between award-winning creative ads and award-winning effective ads.
  • Originality is the first and most obvious characteristic of creativity. We evolved from a culture that rewarded conformity and tradition to one that celebrated individuality and innovation. The more original an ad is the more likely it will capture attention- get noticed. “To be irreplaceable, one must be different” Coco Chanel.
  • An original message/argument has a better chance of persuading people because they haven’t yet developed cognitive immunity to it. Example Ogilvy London 2004 when pitching the idea of “The Real Truth about Beauty” campaign to Dove executives.
  • Interestingness is the second characteristic of creativity. An idea that is communicated clearly, but also so interesting (surprising) that people choose to spend time talking about it.

“It is vital to be interesting, it is merely important to be right” 

Saatchi & Saatchi UK Director of Strategy Richard Huntington.

  • Communication messages that touch people and make them care are also powerful.
  • If the head is seduced by “the idea”, then the heart is almost certainly won over by the execution. The execution is the magic and artistic crafting of the idea; things like the music, typography, photography and unique talent.
  • “What great effective awarded campaigns have in common than others would not have to be their ability to make an extraordinary idea work only because of the vital inclusion of the product” James MacGrath, Creative Chairman of Australia’s Clemenger BBDO.


  • Yankelovich Research concluded that city dwellers are exposed to 3000 messages a day. People might recall 1% to the max. We consumers naturally bock and filter out the grand majority of ads. We only consume a handful that captures our attention. The reality is that most ads are not highly creative. According to the UK Institute of Practitioners of Advertising, just one out of 7000 ads might be highly creative ad.
  • Harvard University Research also estimated that people might recall just 72 out of thousands of ads they are exposed to every day. Only 12 ads might have an impression on them. And out of these 12, it is unusual to recall more than 2 the next day.
  • Peter Field (UK Marketing Consultant) and Les Binet’s “Marketing in the Era of Accountability” study show that awarded campaigns are 11 times higher on return on media investment. Awarded campaigns with the same buy of ESOV (Excess Share of Voice or excess of the advertising spend in its category greater than its market share) generated a 5.7% market share growth compared with non-awarded campaigns that generated just a 0.5% lift in market share.
  • An eye-tracking study by Tilburg University – about people reading magazine ads – showed that creative ads are far more likely to be noticed than non-creative ones.
  • An unaided recall study by the University of South Carolina on people watching 30-second ad spots both award-winning and non-award-winning ones from the same period showed creative awarded ad spots are 2-9 times more likely to be recalled than the non-awarded spots.
  • Consumers are generally sceptical and close-minded when processing information, so by nature, they are unlikely to change existing beliefs and attitudes made by rational ad claims. Creative awarded ads connect in a less rational more visceral (emotional) way, breaking consumer mistrust and making them more likely to believe what the message says.
  • The companies that have been most committed to creative advertising have been among the ones outperforming the stock market. Examples included: Nike, Procter and Gamble (P&G), Swatch, Volkswagen, BMW, Adidas, Sony and Honda.
  • From an “Attention” economy to a “Conversation” economy. Consumers are forming opinions about brands in a new and different way via real conversations offline and online. Fleishman Hillard’s “Digital Influence Index” confirmed consumers are spending more time on digital media (24 hours: internet, email, mobile phones) than traditional media (TV, radio, print). A 2007 Study by MacCan Erickson concluded that 40% of the surveyed sample have discussed a product or service via instant messenger or email. Tip Top ice cream company re-introduced the GrapeFruit and Lemon flavours after a Facebook group was created.
  • 40% of the top 50 UK brands have negative PR on Google results. This can be an issue when Google has become the home page for many brands. “Ford” has been typed 30 times more than visits to

“Nobody talks about brands, they talk about what interests them and sometimes it is a brand” 

Howard Luck Gossage

  • iPhone, Wii, Toyota Prius, The method (Cleaning brand), Nomis (German Football boot), Australian Four n Twenty Pies magic salad plate and New Zealand Yellow Pages tree restaurant are all different and have created interesting stories, therefore it is worth for people to talk about them.


  • The most creative agencies tend to be 10% smaller (billings) than the less creative agencies. Most creative agencies have won 2.6 times as many effectiveness awards.


  • Your objective should be effectiveness, and your strategy to achieve that objective is creativity.
  • If you are looking to entertain a massive audience, you are better off showing them something they are familiar with. Backstreet Boys (highly engineered pop) vs Radio Head (creative work) – Dido vs Bjork (creative) – Titanic movie (adaptation) vs Independence Day movie (original work). The reality is most people tend not to enjoy highly original/creative films or music.
  • Marketers who are “in it to win” or “in it not to lose” are much better off with a creative approach.
  • Creativity creates powerful word of mouth (Pizzeria Delfina example, bad customer commentary printed on employees’ t-shirts.


  • In the process of creating something new, you have to let it go and be relaxed between that tension of what you can control and what you cannot.
  • Mundane everyday experiences such as simple observations allow us to open up to experiment with new things. Observing what’s happening around you, opening up and embracing all the factors around you that might change you, the inspiration that brings to you will be powerful fuel for your next creations.
  • Bad experiences or parts of life that are difficult or weaknesses are also sources of challenging your thoughts and start appreciating the things you have to do differently because of the difficulties or weaknesses you might have. So embracing and learning from your bad experiences or weaknesses sometimes can help you bring creativity.
  • Creativity is not the end but the path to ultimately build connection and trust.


  • The most significant difference between creatively-awarded and non-awarded campaigns was in the scale of fame effects they generated. Famous campaigns become talked about by the attitudes and the points of view they project; encouraging brand usage by creating perceptions that the brand is far more important than before.
  • “Fame” campaigns not only generate increases in sales volume but also affect price sensitivity and elasticity. People are prepared to pay more for brands that people talk about. As people value more a brand, a brand is more elastic to increase its pricing with no losses in sales volumes.
  • Brands can buy all the awareness they can, but if the message is un-creative, people will not talk about it. Creativity creates conversations, which brings value to brands and increases financial rewards.
  • Greater creativity signals more effort and thus produces more favourable brand perceptions.

Making advertising is great. Making advertising that works is better. Making advertising that offers value to the world is even better

Mau, Global Head of Marketing Strategy at eDigital.

eDigital can help you conceptualise, plan, develop, run and optimise successful marketing campaigns that generate leads and sales for your brand.

The services we offer include:

  • Strategic planning for social media and other digital marketing channels.
  • Online advertising management and optimisation (Search, Display, social media ads and re-marketing).
  • Marketing training: social media training and digital marketing training. 
  • SEO strategy and execution. Including content development (articles, stories, eye-catching and SEO-optimised visuals).
  • Celebrity and influencer marketing campaign strategy. 
  • Brand development. Logo creation, brand personality development and design of marketing materials.
  • Consumer contests/competitions/giveaways.
  • Email marketing. Dip sequence design and deployment. 
  • Conversion rate optimisation. Also called “path to purchase” optimisation. 

Contact us today and start boosting your leads and sales.

Hundreds of marketers have supported us with their generous donations. Donate today! or join 5k+ marketers receiving our e-newsletter.

Final note: Want to reduce customer acquisition costs and dependency on paid media? eDigital‘s marketing strategy training will unmercifully review your marketing, help you build a marketing engine with channels and assets you own, stir your team’s thinking, bring new ideas for new conversion paths and boost customer lifetime value.


was brought to you by Mau
cat laptop rug book red glasses illustration

Mau is one of the most popular marketing consultants and facilitator of eDigital‘s best marketing strategy training and best social media training.  Top marketers use Mau’s popular Digital Marketing Plan and Social Media Plan templates.

Book Mau for your next training day or join 5k+ marketers receiving Mau‘s e-newsletter.