Advertising is an ideas business, but the idea needs to be in a relevant context, else the end product – though a creative genius – might not go down well with its TG, which is after all the aim of advertising. Creative agencies get into lot of research on any given category or a brand, but it remains to be discovered where the final vote goes when locking an idea. Is it gut feel or the data ridden exhaustive research?
Giving his take on the subject, Prathap Suthan, NCD, Cheil Worldwide, SW Asia, said, “It is essential to know ‘what needs to be said’ before reaching ‘how to say it’. To understand the reason and objective of the communication, I do get into understanding the research data and product category analysis, etc.”
He added, “Since ‘me too’ or parity is today almost the norm across product and service categories, it’s important to know how to wedge your creative thought. Therefore, it’s important to go through client’s brief. Often, I have been able to spot strategic gaps or reinforce my thinking by going through their PPTs. There have also been instances when I have been able to find huge untapped positions within category analysis, and, therefore, convince or influence the client rethink and even rewrite the brief. This is actually commonsense that goes missing under the deluge of jargon. One gets caught in over-analysis and loses objectivity. The enemy of clarity is usually abundance of information.”
One thing is clear, that the creative process cannot be bereft of information. Though how much information is required is debatable. Raj Kurup of CreativeLand Asia is clear when he says, “Research is a method to validate the gut feeling. But at the end of the day, one cannot end up being slaves to the numbers.”
Kurup points out that at CreativeLand Asia research is integral, especially for their design outfit. But he adds that personally he has reservations on the way research is conducted in India.
Naresh Gupta, EVP, Strategic Planning, Publicis India, has spent considerable time on data and analysis, but he is of the opinion that if research is what matters, then all research agencies would have been great creative houses. He said,
“The word is re-search and not search. It comes after something has been created. While creative process is not slave to research, but it is also true that it borrows heavily from it. A great idea is a combination of intuition and knowledge. Creative without any context is meaningless, and research helps to bring that alive.”
It seems like though creatives give a thought to the numbers and graphs available, gut feel finally wins. As Suthan puts it, “When I get into thinking an idea and then locking on to one particular script, it is 100 per cent pure gut. Something inside tells me that I am on to the right film. It’s a feeling that comes from all that I have absorbed from the brief and understanding what needs to be said. It’s like a reflex. It’s actually like falling in love. You may see a few thousand girls throughout your growing up age, and all of a sudden you look at one girl and you just know she is the one. Is there any analysis to that? None.”
That says all. But what do people on the other side – the research agencies – have to say? Shravani Sen, Research Director, Head Synovate Qualitative India, said, “Research is usually seen as the nemesis of creativity. But with the current mindset of consumers, who value rationality over mere sentimentality and want to be treated as intelligent human beings, being well informed is the main armour a creative agency can get equipped with. To know the consumer inside out needs research. Once you know them, you can decide which value, which aspect of their lives to go for. That is the real test of creativity. Research is not a crutch, as many believe, but a smart search. It is many time ‘my customer google’.”