Short-termism is ‘killing’ creativity in marketing, claims new IPA report

Shrinking marketing budgets and the use of short-term metrics to measure success have resulted in a sharp drop in creativity, according to the latest IPA report ‘Selling Creativity Short: Creativity and effectiveness under threat’.

Launched at the Cannes Lions festival today (23 June), the IPA suggests the effectiveness of creative campaigns has halved over the past four years, after analysing campaigns that have won the IPA Effectiveness Award. It claims that creatively awarded campaigns are now six times as efficient as non-awarded campaigns, down from 12 times in 2011.

The report’s author Peter Field believes marketing campaigns that are part of a long-term strategy are now a “rarity” and that short-termism has put the buzz of many major brands in “sharp decline.”

He says 30% of the IPA’s Effectiveness Award-winning brand campaigns are currently having their success measured over just a six month period. This is up from a rate of 7% of brands 10 years ago.

Field told Marketing Week: “There is an obsession with short-termism and it is now endemic among marketers.

“Getting people to talk about brands takes time to build and exploit, it doesn’t work in a hurry. If you underfund creative campaigns and also rush them, then they ultimately don’t deliver.”

The impact of digital and TV on creativity

In particular, Field says the rise of digital and programmatic advertising has had a negative impact on the quality of marketing.

“Digital has spent a decade telling us you can measure everything instantly and that it’s a good thing. The reality is it’s a very bad thing”

Peter Field, marketing consultant

He added: “The vast majority of digital campaigns are subsequently rushed and fuelling short-termism. The digital mindset can kill creativity.”

Last year, TV advertising revenues rose by 7.3% to £5.2bn, according to the Advertising Association. And the new IPA report suggests TV is still the primary driver of creativity among marketers.

Field said: “TV is still very healthy and the Advertising Association figures proved that. I have worked with a lot of clients and they find it hard to make social work hard for them creatively. TV is a long-term effectiveness medium and in uncertain times [with fears over Brexit], it remains a pretty solid option for most marketers.”

Following John Lewis

For brands that want to avoid short-termism and reignite the creativity in their advertising, Field advises them to look at John Lewis for inspiration.

“Ten years ago people were writing off department stores but John Lewis has grown its market share to 30%,” he added.

“While people might say its Christmas campaigns are guilty of short-termism as they are designed to create a festive swing, the objective is to carry the brand throughout the year and build buzz for a sustained period. That’s not something you really see anymore and it is making consumers fall out of love with a lot of brands.”