Is the day of the be-all-end-all advertising campaign gone? The pithy headline, the show-stopping image, the clever analogy—the holy grail that every creative dreams of capturing?

Sort of.

It was a simpler time when the campaign slogan on the tip of every tongue was the pinnacle of advertising success. Jumping right in—concepting for days and weeks, testing against a myriad of criteria—stopping power, uniqueness, on strategy, single-minded, and a variety of other factors almost as creative as the work it’s meant to produce. Refine, test some more, add legal and regulatory rigor. Rinse and repeat. Resulting in the heavenly glow and high-pitched “ahhhhhh” you see and hear in your head when you’ve nailed…THE CREATIVE CONCEPT.

How excited is the creative team, then, to see this concept plastered everywhere? On billboards, in journals, on sell sheets, as website headers, banner ads, detail aids, on buses, convention displays—the bigger the spend, the bigger the reward, the bigger the creative success. The bigger the glow and exaltation.

Is that where our creative value still lives?

Today’s marketers want agency partners who can build business value, not just creative campaigns. The current environment is in flux with new complexities for brands to navigate—unique and multiple touch points, more channels than ever, and increasing technologies to address. Agility, integration, and consistent narratives deliver the new holy grail: the seamless brand experience. No longer is it enough to surround consumers with our messages—they must feel it, experience it, believe in it, be touched by it, influenced by it. Think…replace surround sound with customer relationship management (CRM). Today’s creative value lies in relationship building.

Engagement rules.

What used to be the measure of a great agency is now but one component of a larger marketing ecosystem. Dare I say, the almighty concept is but a facet of a greater experiential program. Storytelling, video, influencers, meaningful content, and advertising delivered where and when it matters most—this is the new criteria of creative success. Creative teams must embrace this new criterion by starting bigger, building the experience, following the data, exploring all local and global nuances, and welcoming change all along the way to continue to resonate and engage consumers.

So, is the concept dead? No.

It still provides the visual, verbal, intellectual, and emotional fuel that powers everything else. Without impactful creative, even the most sophisticated marketing programs can ring hollow.

Concepts still matter. But not as an end in themselves. As a beginning to something larger.

  • June Carnegie

    June Carnegie is EVP, Executive Creative Director at Calcium. June leads the creative department at Calcium featuring a talented team of art directors and copywriters to deliver award-winning work.

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