Driven by curiosity, fear, or money (20XX → 2023)

Choosing the right creative concept

It should be easy, instinctive, and stress-free. How hard can it be to choose the best concept? In my experience, it’s very challenging. It’s also where many tool-kits, processes, and systems defer back to you.

However, it’s one of the most critical parts of a successful campaign. And you’re on your own. According to Harvard Business Review, “a euro invested in a highly creative ad campaign had nearly double the sales impact of a euro spent on a non-creative campaign.”[1]

In many ways it’s more difficult selecting the right idea than it is having the right idea. Here is some advice for helping you choose the right creative concept.

Get clear

Give yourself some time between any concept development you and your team have done and choosing your creative campaign. Even a day or two will help make decisions about the merits of the work much more manageable.

The SMP and creative brief will guide you

Your original creative brief is the best single document you have by which to measure creative concepts. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the creative concept deliver on the single-minded proposition (SMP), or is it communicating something different?
  • Can the creative concept be executed faithfully and powerfully in the channels we’ve selected?
  • Can it be executed well given the constraints of our budget and timeline?
  • Is it rewarding for your audience or a waste of their time?

Understand your different audience and their needs

It’s very important that when developing your campaign, you keep in mind the fact that you will need to develop three suites of communication, for your three audiences. It’s very easy to develop a creative concept that favours one of your audiences and compromises the others. Keep this in mind when making your decision.

Seek opinions

It’s essential to get new perspectives on creative concepts. It will help mitigate problems you’re blind to and help you see the work from more subjective positions. However, when confronted, many people feel the need to react rationally, that is, in a way that can be logically defended. To critique work logically is to deny the emotive qualities of a creative concept. Stay mindful of this.

It’s also a good idea to ask your audience what they think. The power of the creative concept to affect change in your audience is, in conclusion, the only thing that matters. You can do this with focus groups or surveys, but again, you risk your audiences reacting rationally to work and thus skewing the analysis. A better way is to test campaign elements in context and in-market.

Accept the impossibility of a perfect decision

You must choose the creative concept that you think and feel will be the most effective. It’s a decision made with imperfect information. However, it’s better to choose a good creative concept earlier than a better creative concept later. That’s because the quality of the idea is only as good as the execution of the idea, and all ideas take more time to execute well that you might initially think.

Shun democracy

Democracy might feel like a fair way of choosing a creative concept, but generally, it’s at the expense of an effective campaign. Groups of people tend to select creative concepts that nobody hates. Which is to say they choose things that very few people are captivated by. It’s better to choose a creative campaign that people react strongly to (hopefully positively), than a campaign that’s easy to ignore. Don’t forget that you’re primarily fighting for attention.

It extends painlessly

One typical quality of good creative campaign is their ability to extend out into all media, platforms, executions, and audiences. If a concept works well from long-form video, Instagram posts, press releases, etc. and can be executed for professionals as well as the public, then you should feel confident that your creative concept is in fact, a creative platform for your entire campaign.

It’s refreshing

Your creative concept should not be entirely predictable. It should challenge the conventions of the public-health category if it’s to get the attention it deserves. Nobody on the internet is looking to engage with predictable and uninspired content or communication. Respect your audience and don’t burden them with boring.

It’s a bit scary

If it doesn’t feel a little bit dangerous, then you might be backing a creative concept that’s so safe that it might be ineffective. However, support yourself. Choose a strong creative concept and then move your attention into execution it with confidence.

Don’t create a monster

When considering the merits of different creative concepts, it’s common to want to take the best parts of different concepts and Frankenstein them into a new campaign. That is almost always a bad idea and yields a confusing mix of ideas that all compromise each other. Instead, choose one idea and do it well. Or else you’ll burden your audience with a horse-cat, dog-pony, of whale-goat.


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