The king is dead. Long live the king.
Those of us in the advertising business have invariably heard the term “Creative is king.” Coming from an industry known for developing some of the great pop-culture references of all time (think “Where’s the beef?” or “I want my MTV”) it’s no surprise that this is a common phrase in ad agencies across the land.
While being creative is definitely a very important part of advertising, and those that do it well can truly leave a mark on society, I’d argue that there is one phrase that might be more accurate: Common Sense is King.
I’m not trying to downplay the creativity required in advertising or those who come up with the ideas that leave people asking “Did you see that new (fill in the blank) commercial?” I’m just suggesting that common sense has a very important “checks & balances” role to play with creativity. I would argue that the three branches of good advertising are creativity, strategy and common sense. If any one of these is left out of the mix an advertisement has the potential to go terribly wrong.
Our industry prides itself on being creative but also digging into our clients’ business to completely understand their goals, missions, strategies, etc. And after hours of research and concepting there are still far too many ads like the one above that don’t pass the common sense test. If you want a laugh (or cry depending on your point-of-view) check out adfailure.com to see more.
It’s easy to understand how, when entire teams of advertising and marketing professionals are focused on making sure logos are correct and no typos exist, sometimes the bigger picture can get lost. But when a 13-year-old looks at your hard work and sees something you missed, consider that an epic fail.
So while creativity and strategy play very important roles in the development of all marketing elements, common sense plays the ultimate trump card. Long live the king.