How Advertising Makes Us Smile by Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox CEO

Advertising Week has rapidly become a jewel in our industry’s crown. You’re a fool if you don’t try and absorb as much of it as possible. But let’s be honest. Let’s face facts. By day two there’s a good chance you may be bored to tears of the words ‘data’ and ‘programmatic’. By day four you’ll likely have a Pavlovian response to those words; they’ll be triggers which cause you to involuntarily smash yourself in the forehead with the utter tedium of it all. You might be doing it now.

I know all that is important, but I’m so delighted that I have a more interesting word to discuss; a ray of fizzing light shining through the algorithmic gloom: creativity. Creativity knows little of algorithms and much of people and joy. Creativity is the bit about advertising that the audience can actually love. It isn’t just the acceptable face; it is the welcomed face, the sought-after face of our industry. It’s the bit we talk about and remember. It makes us giggle and smile despite ourselves; it makes us shift in our seats; it can move us; it makes us sing and hum and jiggle about. I know this; I do it myself – but Thinkbox has also put cameras in people’s living rooms and watched them doing it. We also saw them doing some other things, which were creative in their own right. Some were borderline procreative.

Advertising sits at the heart of the creative industries in the UK and its creativity pushes the emotional buttons that we know makes advertising more effective. There are now cold, hard facts that back this up. Having always known anecdotally that strong advertising creativity led to commercial success, there was little proof of the relationship until fairly recently, when the IPA, in association with Thinkbox, published ‘The link between creativity & effectiveness’ (originally published in 2010, then updated in 2011). I won’t drown you with all the things it found, you can visit for those, but I’ll give you the gist. The study fused the Gunn Report database of creatively-awarded ad campaigns with the IPA Effectiveness Databank, home to campaigns which have proven their effectiveness, to examine any links between the two. It found enough links to make a chain with which to weigh anchor on Andrew Cracknell’s yacht. It discovered that creative campaigns are 10 times more efficient at increasing a brand’s market share, and that TV advertising sits at the heart of creative effectiveness.

So I’m very lucky because I’ve got one of the best gigs at Advertising Week; I get to talk about the fun stuff, but also the effective stuff. And I get to chew the cud with the cream of the creative crop about their creative highs and lows, their inspirations, what they admire and what they hope for the future of creativity in advertising. If that sounds a bit worthy, don’t fret; it will be informal, relaxed and, if previous years are anything to go by, there will be plenty of mockery amidst the wisdom. I will be gently grilling Danny Brooke-Taylor, Founding Partner of Lucky Generals; Kate Stanners, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi; Caroline Pay, Deputy Executive Creative Director at BBH; and Craig Inglis, John Lewis’ Marketing Director. So not just the wonderful minds who create the ads, but one of the best examples of a brave client who actually says yes to outstanding – and risky – creativity.

This all-star line-up will assemble on Wednesday 23rd at 11am on The ITV Stage at BAFTA. I won’t be surprised if they make you to jiggle in your seat and smile.