Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 40

Advertising Creativity: Exploring Perceptual Differences within Advertising Agencies

Scott Koslow University of Waikato Sheila Sasser Edward Riordan Wayne State University

NOTE: This is a work in progress. Do not quote without written permission of the authors.

Advertising Creativity: Exploring Perceptual Differences within Advertising Agencies

INTRODUCTION Academic research on advertising creativity has not been adequately addressed considering the disproportionate role it plays in advertising practice (Stewart, 1992). Many have called for more research on the creative process (e.g., Zinkhan, 1993), and on the opinions of different groups of agency creative personnel (Reid, King, and DeLorme, 1998). We do know that advertising creativity takes such a central position that it has been referred to as the X-factor of successful advertising (White, 1972). To showcase such creativity, advertising agencies spend a great deal of time and energy competing for creative awards (Polonsky and Walter, 1995). Many advertisers often claim that creative is the primary reason that they actively seek out new advertising agencies, in order to achieve stronger or better creative work. Creativity has frequently been viewed as the mission of the entire

advertising industry, but with only these and a few other exceptions, (e.g. Kover, 1995; Kover, James, and Sonner, 1997 and others) we know very little about it. A fundamental problem in advertising creativity research is that few can agree on what it is. It is frustrating that perceptions of creativity differ depending on whom one asks. For example, creativity awards judges' perceptions of creativity differ greatly from consumers' perceptions (Kover, Goldberg and James 1995). Hirschman (1989) has noted

important creative differences depending on ones role within an agency. Even among various types of agency creatives (ie. copywriters and art directors) there are significant differences in their perceptions of creativity (Young 2000). Some may be interpreted as giving up the search for a conceptual definition in that they define it in terms of paradoxes (Bengtson 1972; Blasko and Mokwa 1986). Like beauty, creativity appears to be in the eye of the beholdereven within agenciesand to understand its essence is vital to further research. However, researchers may be missing a key point. Perhaps, theoretically, creativity should be different from person to person--but at the same time show patterns that help anchor the concept. To understand the definition of advertising creativity, this paper applies some recent advances in creativity theory (Runco and Charles, 1993) which propose that perceptions of creativity are a function of originality and appropriateness. An important element of this approach is that it accommodates perceptual differences. Although perceptions of originality may not differ greatly between groups, appropriateness can differ greatly, even within a single advertising agency. We also borrow from Hirschmans (1989) work on the roles within agencies and go on to propose that appropriateness should and does differ among advertising agency disciplines. This explains many of the perceptual differences and provides a base for further exploration of advertising creativity. To test our model, we collect information on 572 campaigns from 204 advertising executives in the largest advertising offices in Detroit and New York. We conclude with some suggestions regarding the management of the creative process within agencies. Finally, we renew the call for more research on advertising creativity.

What Exactly Is Creativity?: The Definition Debate

One of the most debated issues in creativity research has been the development of a conceptual definition for creativity. There appears to be as many different definitions of creativity as there are researchers (Mellou 1996; Mumford and Gustafson 1988). One problem is that the single disciplinary approach from many different fields does not yield a cohesive or comprehensive theory that incorporates or synthesizes all of the various interactive dimensions. Furthermore, each discipline uses different terms, jargon, and parameters for research. Each historical phase of research has been characterized by a unique approach to defining creativity. There are four distinct phases of research: prior to 1900, 1900 to 1950, the 1950s and 1960s, and since the late 1970s and early 1980s. The periods can be likened to a swinging pendulum, first focusing on creativity as an individual attribute, then on creativity's situational context, then further repetition and evolution. The Early View: Individuals. Becker (1995) reviewed research on creativity prior to 1900. The term creativity appears to be of 20th century origin, but research involving creativity appeared under a different name, genius. This topical area combined the two fields researchers currently call intelligence and creativity. Intelligence and creativity were so closely perceived as correlated that Alfred Binet is credited with developing the initial formulae used in later individual creativity tests (Barron and Harrington 1981). Early versions of Binet's IQ test contained a scale similar to a divergent thinking test, that was at some point abandoned but later resurrected by researchers in the 1960s. The emphasis of this early creativity research was on what creativity is, who had it, and how to generate more creativity. On the whole, it was viewed as primarily an individual attribute. Researchers of that era rarely used scientific methods with the exception of Binet's work. Instead, use of personal observation and opinion were widespread. Yet, these researchers pioneered many

concepts that are studied currently, but they still could not agree on a definition of creativity (see Becker 1995). A Second Look: Situations. The second phase of research shifted focus from the individual to the exploration of the creative process. Situational contexts and environmental influences became prominent during this phase of research. Wallas (1926) is generally credited with the first multi stage model of the creative process. He proposed four stages: preparation, incubation, illumination, and elaboration. These are generally viewed as traditional problem solving steps except for illumination, the "aha" flash of insight, in which a new, creative idea takes shape (Guilford 1963). Other researchers suggested different steps (eg, Rossman 1931; Osborn 1953), but process models of creativity have only received limited empirical support. Patrick (1937) found support for the distinct steps, but not for Wallas' ordering. Similar findings are reported by Eindhoven and Vinacke (1952). The illumination phase is probably the most important stage, but has also been the most difficult to study. Kubie (1961) and Wells (1996) report that there is surprisingly little research on this stage. In this phase, definitions of creativity were rarely made formal, nor were they often measured. Although current creativity research progressed to other issues, creative process models have not been abandoned. For example, many recent creativity models incorporate stages in some way (eg, Amabile 1996; Mumford et al 1991). It is important to note that Mumford et al (1997) recently tested the stages approach to creativity using student subjects on an advertising task. They found only limited support for the effects of particular stages on creative outputs. Despite these problems, creative process models are still well accepted in advertising textbooks (eg, Belch and Belch 2001). Likewise, current research occasionally borrows the conceptual style of not formally defining creativity. For example, Amabile's

(1996) research frequently does not define creativity for respondents who are asked to use their own subjective definitions of creativity. Back to Individual Dispositions. An important innovation in the study of creativity is the work of Guilford and Torrance who together lead creativity research into its third phase. Guilford's (1950) presidential address to the American Psychological Association renewed interest in the area. The approach taken focused less on the creative process, and more on the information processing of the creative person. In effect, the concept of creativity was changed from a flash of insight or illumination to a form of problem solving (see Cattell 1971). The construct divergent thinking also became important because it allowed individuals to solve problems in novel ways. Because Guilford came out of a psychometric tradition, a key objective was to determine tests to discover creative personality, ability or disposition. The focus of measurement was to determine individuals' creative disposition, thus prompting a revival of the research perspective held prior to 1900. Several dimensions of creativity were proposed, but the ones that were most commonly studied were fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration. These four dimensions became the core of Torrance's (1974) Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT). Torrance claimed the instrument contained predictive validity, and researchers finally felt they had a measure for creativity that was regarded as quantitative, reliable, and scientific. This development helped to increase the volume of creativity research undertaken. However, later researchers demonstrated that the TTCT has less than desirable validity (see Feldhusen and Goh 1995 and Plucker and Renzulli 1999 for reviews) and consequently interest in measuring, predicting, and studying individual creativity waned. Situations (Again). The fourth phase of creativity research began when the questions researchers asked shifted to the broader situations that individuals experienced. Although it was never the intention of Torrance, the implication of tests like TTCT was that creativity

was a predetermined set potential similar to IQ and therefore little would be gained from creativity training. However, practitioners like DeBono (1971) and Osborn (1953) popularized creative thinking tools like "thinking hats" and "brainstorming" respectively. They had a fair measure of commercial success, suggesting that creativity can be taught, and in the late 1970s and early 1980s academics began to take these ideas seriously and test them. Likewise, situational effects like evaluation began to surface as an important determinant of creativity. For example, Amabile's (1979) dissertation research proposed the novel ideal that external evaluation can decrease creativity. This conceptual evolution challenged the idea that creativity was purely a homogeneous psychological attribute. By 1988, the consensus appeared to be that creativity was at least an interaction between the creative individual and the situational environment. In 1995, Kasof jettisoned any remaining reliance on the Guilford-Torrance approach when he developed his attributional model of creativity. In a feature article in the Journal of Creativity Research, Kasof (1995) reviewed how covariation principles explain the way observers tend to attribute creativity to persons rather than situations. Although historically a revolutionary idea, it is strongly supported by five of the twelve commentators, and partially by several others. The change to the importance of situations over dispositions signalled a clear shift in the way one measures creativity. If creative dispositions are potentially subject to attributional biases, assessment of creative products becomes the focus of reliable measurement. Thus, new creativity measures that focused on creative products were needed. Some measurement researchers revisited the conceptual definitions of creativity and sought to find common ground. First, all creativity researchers seemed to agree that creativity is multifaceted (Mumford and Gustafson 1988). Second, most creativity researchers also agreed that at least one facet must be originality, novelty or newness

(Sternberg and Lubart 1996). Agreement beyond these two points is less pronounced, but there is a growing consensus regarding what constitutes creativity beyond originality: "appropriateness" broadly defined. For example, Rothenberg and Hausman (1976) defined creative products as original and having worth or usefulness. MacKinnon (1965) suggested that the second facet should be related to problem solving, situational appropriateness, or goal accomplishment. Young (1985) argued creative products had two dimensions, newness and value, but that additional dimensions were unnecessary. Based on these works, Runco and Charles (1993) proposed and tested a measurement model for creative outputs based on two variables: originality and appropriateness. Since being proposed, this model has enjoyed fairly wide acceptance in the literature (see Kasof 1995), even though a few other views are still being advanced (e.g., Mellou 1996). Creativity Definitions in Marketing. Although a broad review of the creativity literature reveals the four phases above, such a history would not be apparent from any review of creativity in the advertising and marketing literature. For the most part, the Guilford-Torrance dispositional approach did not take hold in advertising and marketing. Other than a few published studies (e.g., Reid 1977; Reid and Rotfeld 1976), marketing studies have not dealt with measuring creative dispositions. Although surprising, there is good reason for this. Generally, advertising creatives are so extreme in their creativity, little can be obtained by comparing high and low creativity individuals. Measuring individual creativity becomes important only to marketing researchers when advising students about careers in advertising (Reid 1977), or when those creativity relevant skills interact with situational influences like attitude or motivation (Reid and Rotfeld 1976). Instead of following the Guilford-Torrance approach, the process or situational context approach of creativity research has dominated and continues to dominate the

marketing and advertising areas. For example, The Journal of Advertising and the Journal of Advertising Research published a little more than a dozen articles and comments on creativity in advertising in the 1970s and 1980s. Over half were based on anecdotes or philosophical approaches typical of the second phase of research (Bogart 1988/1989; Dillon 1975; Frazer 1983; Keil 1975; Matthews 1975; Morgan 1985; Politz 1975; Stephens and Burke 1974; Vaughn 1982/1983; Wells 1983). The rest were still focused on processes, but were also empirical thus signalling a shift to the fourth phase of research (Gagnard and Swartz 1988/1989; Durgee 1985/1986; Hirschman 1989; Michell 1984; Reid and Rotfeld 1976; Russell and Winter 1973; Vanden Bergh, Reid, and Schorin 1983; Vanden Bergh, Smith and Wicks 1986). Recent research in creativity in marketing is more typical of phase four research. For example, Andrew and Smith (1996) and Sethi, Smith and Park (2001) use Runco and Charles' (1992) originality--appropriateness scales and focused on the kinds of situations that enhance creativity rather than just the dispositional approach of those with creative ideas.

Assumption: Creativity Is the Same for Everyone It is useful to consider the changing historical definition of creativity to understand why there is little consensus about its measurement. However, if this were the major reason for variations, there should be reasonable agreement within phases of research, which does not exist. There may be other reasons why creativity is so hard to define. It is proposed here that there are variations in the conceptual definitions because creativity can and often should be different from observer to observer. Amabile (1996) provides some evidence on the potential of individual differences in defining creativity. She proposed and popularized the Consensual Assessment Technqiue (CAT) of creativity in which a number of judges view finished creative outputs and

independently and subjectively rate its creativity. Amabile (1996) avoids being bogged down in the mire of the creativity definition debate by avoiding it entirely. Creativity is viewed as similar to Judge Posner's definition of pornography: it is difficult to define, but you know it when you see it. If one takes a number of appropriate or expert judges, their consensus should be a good measure of creativity. Amabile (1996) gives little direction to judges as to defining creativity and asks them to use their own subjective definition in making assessments. Across several dozen studies, she finds a high degree of agreement in these judgements, even when judges' backgrounds varied (Amabile 1996). However, most of the studies Amabile (1996) presents are of "everyday" creative tasks like simple art designs, short poems or stories, or basic problem solving. Under such conditions, it is possible that definitions of creativity should be similar across people of different backgrounds. In a few studies, more complex creative tasks and different judgement panel backgrounds were used. For example, in one study there were three groups of judges; artists, art teachers, and Stanford psychology department members. Although, on average, there was good agreement of judges, there was only modest agreement among the three groups. They appeared to have slight differences in what they were defining as creativity. However, given the task observation of the art designs of 15 year old girls, there was probably not a large degree of difference in creativity definitions. In another more indicative study, the creative outputs were professional artists' portfolios. Judges were non-experts, expert professional artists, or a expert art historian. There were similarities in what was viewed as creative within groups, but significant differences were found among the groups. Amabile (1996) concludes, "It may be that for certain high-level products, being steeped in the specific domain really does lead to more valid assessments of creativity," (p. 72). Amabile appears to believe that lack of consensus means some perceptions of creativity are more valid that others, but it is also possible that

each type of judge was looking for different things in the portfolios. Art non-experts are usually art consumers and they may have been looking for things they would like to hang over their sofa. Artists might look at the portfolios in a more collegial manner, and the art historian may be making comparisons using art criticism. Similar differences in the perception of creativity have been noted in the advertising literature, with large difference in the perception of creativity in advertising between consumers and advertising creatives (Kover, James and Sonner 1997). This difference is puzzling in that advertising creatives produce advertisements for consumers on a routine basis. Yet, just as definitions of creativity differ from researcher to researcher, individual perceptions of creativity can and, in some cases, probably should differ from observer to observer. The task, however, is to find the pattern in such differences and we propose some directions below. How Creativity Definitions Differ from Person to Person Because advertising has traditionally taken a situational approach to creativity, a useful starting place may be creativity approaches that focus on creative products. As the most widely recognized definition of creative outcomes, the Runco and Charles (1992) originality--appropriateness definition of creativity will be used. Although a simple definition, it will be expanded to incorporate a more complex conceptualization across people. The originality aspect of a creative product has never been questionned. Generally, what is creative is new, novel, unusual, divergent, unique, or statistically rare. That is, it is in some way not the norm. Given that an observer has some reasonable base of knowledge or experience, it should be the case that most observers should give similar ratings to originality judgements. Amabile's (1996) review shows that consistently inter judge reliability for originality or novelty has the highest or almost the highest reliability score among the dozens


of evaluations. Runco and Charles (1992) likewise report high agreement on originality judgements and that subjects are much more accurate in judging originality than appropriateness. They report some surprise at this, but show that originality perceptions are less subjective than appropriateness. For originality, one only needs to recognize it is different, but for appropriateness, the judgements are what they refer to as more "subjective." That is, they note that for something to be inappropriate it may violate conventional norms or logic, or develop its own logic or norms. For example, in a group of one red and nine white golf balls, it should be clear which one is different. However, if one were to then ask whether the red one were appropriate, that would be more difficult. If the context is regulation golf, the red one is not, but if the context is winter golf on snow, then it is. Likewise, reasonably informed judges can spot the original creative product, but appropriateness is contextual to the frame being used by the judge. That advertisers can spot unusual advertising should be straight forward, but several authors have suggested that the perceived appropriateness of advertisements may differ from person to person. Why Perceptions Differ on Advertisement Appropriateness A number of researchers have explored differences in what is appropriate in advertising within agencies. Hirschman (1989) provided a detailed review of six different roles played in the creations of television advertisements. These roles include those of the product manager, account executive, copywriter, art director, producer and commercial director. The first two roles are usually identified with advertising strategy development. The next two are associated with the creative production of an advertisement. The last two are production roles. However, Hirschman points out that each of these roles are unique. For example, Hirschman (1989) reports that account executives are focused on fulfilling the client's communications goals. These may include building brand awareness and


creating favorable attitudes. The advertisement is viewed as a vehicle to execute a given marketing strategy to deliver a positive impression about the product to consumers. What an account executive would call an appropriate advertisement goes back to the communications strategy being applied. However, the two creative roles shared a different communication goal for the advertisement. Their goals were to demonstrate their own creative talents and express their own aesthetic viewpoints. For them, the appropriateness of advertisements is more associated with the artistic expression of an advertisement. Other researchers express similar concerns over the lack of consistency in what is considered appropriate. Rothenberg (1994) provides an in depth chronicle of the development of a single advertising campaign for Subaru of America during a stormy market period. Account executives tended to view advertising strategy issues like product positioning as what is appropriate. Media personnel saw appropriateness in the way media strategy was implemented to maximize impact given a smaller media budget than competitors. Likewise, researchers tended to see appropriate advertising as that which is based on research and tests well on consumers. There were some commonalities among these three: account, media and research personnel saw appropriate advertising as that which persuades consumer to buy, that is, advertising that is "on strategy." However, Rothenberg (1994) characterized creatives as indulging themselves in their own aesthetic tastes. To them, appropriateness was just as connected to their own artistic expression as the client's needs, and sometimes artistic expression won out. Views of what is appropriate advertising are so different that it is difficult to find any examples where two characters agreed on what is appropriate. Even Rothenberg's (1994) characterization of consumers suggested what is appropriate to a consumer is entertainment. Kover and Goldberg (1995) detail other differences between account executives and creatives in what is appropriate advertising. What creatives see as appropriate is usually more


emotional than what account executives expect. Because account executives play more a boundary role between the client and creatives, they bear much frustration and grief over the advertisement when it is too far from the strategies envisioned by the client. The result is an environment in which creatives are often unfairly stereotyped by account executives. Even within the creative services areas, Young (2000) shows that art directors and copywriters differ in what they consider appropriate in advertising. Other researchers have pointed out that to consumers, appropriateness can take the form of enhancing their personal experience (Kover, Goldberg and James 1995) or being meaningful (Haberland and Dacin 1992), which is often different from creatives' perceptions of what will connect with consumers (cf. Kover 1995). Additionally, clients and agency personnel also have different views of what is appropriate in advertising (Michell 1984). Originality and appropriateness should both impact perceptions of subjectively defined creativity, yet what is considered appropriate varies from role to role within an agency. For account executives who tend to deal with clients and play the role of strategy gatekeepers in the agency, appropriateness takes the form of being "on strategy" with the advertisement. Likewise, media or research personnel should also perceive appropriateness as being "on strategy" because of their affinity to the client's point of view. However, the artistry of an advertisement should have an effect on the perceived creativity of advertising creatives.

H1: Perceptions of originality and strategy should predict subjective creativity for account, media and research executives, but perceptions of originality and artistry should predict subjective creativity for creative executives.

An important caveat for H1 should be that agency personnel have had the opportunity to develop distinct ideas about what is appropriate. Therefore, an important precursor to


different views within an agency would need to be that they have not worked in other roles within the agency. For example, if an advertising executive moved to the creative department, the experience of working with clients and looking at advertising problems through a strategic perspective should continue to affect one's view of what is creative. If advertising creatives do have distinct views on what is appropriate, it should also hold that they are more isolated in their career tracks than other agency employees. That is, the extent to which one group could have unique perspectives on creativity is limited by the isolation of their career track.

H2: The advertising creatives' career track should be less cross functional than those of account, media and research executives.

METHODOLOGY This empirical study was initiated by conducting qualitative research in the form of in-depth interviews with creatives, account management, media, strategy, and IMC executives at various levels within advertising agencies. The interviews included 4 CEOs from the leading worldwide agency systems in Detroit and New York, two interviews were done in New York and two were conducted in Detroit. Chief Creative Officers, Creative Directors, Copywriters, Art Directors, Executive Vice Presidents, Managing Directors, Senior Vice Presidents, Vice President Account Supervisors, and IMC Digital Account Executives were interviewed, typically during lunch in close proximity to their offices. This form of ethnographic interview method provided insight for the development of research variables. Once these common variables were identified in the first phase of qualitative research, focus groups were structured to probe further into specific constructs. One of the authors spent


many years in the advertising industry and was able to translate agency jargon to facilitate the factor analysis design model. Four focus groups were conducted. The first focus group was comprised of participants from diverse agency areas, including creative directors, senior account management, media specialists and strategic planners who had worked on major accounts typically across several agencies, both large and small. For example, the first group included the founding partner of a specialized creative "boutique" agency who worked closely with a large agency on a major food client on integrated marketing programs, as well as the creative director on a major national retail advertiser and two senior automotive account managers, along with others who had spent their entire careers in ad agencies. A second focus group included an entire creative department with creatives who had worked at several different agency offices, as well as on the client side and freelance on major national accounts in automotive, retail, consumer packaged goods, and financial services. Advertising account managers and directors comprised a third group, most of whom had a minimum of ten years of experience on diverse product categories. This senior group held distinctly different views from their individual perspectives which added to the integrity of the construct development. Finally, a fourth focus group was held at the offices of a major agency with a creative team comprised of a creative director, senior copy writer, and senior art director who had experience in a wide variety of product categories. An initial pilot version of the survey was actually exposed to the last two focus groups in order to probe and solicit feedback on specific items. This exploratory research was used to identify common variables shared by the different participants in order to develop constructs for empirical testing. A survey instrument was devised using items identified by the agency participants, the previous literature review, and anchored primarily on the Amabile model (1996). A pilot test of the survey was


conducted with 30 advertising creatives and managers in an attempt to avoid any overlapping items/factors. Jargon and specific words were pretested and retested for consistency across different agency areas. Additionally, approximately fifty MBA advertising students, many of whom work at leading agencies, were also given surveys to edit and proof read, as part of an MBA Advertising class assignment. The MBA responses were not included in this study, but were used as a barometer to check the questionnaire for accuracy and completeness. Once all changes had been made to the questionnaire, a few key advertising executives were sent sample copies with personalized letters in order to obtain concurrence to conduct research at their agencies. For the sample frame, we utilized Crain's list of top agencies offices in Detroit and New York. Responses were collected from 9 of the top 10 agency offices in Detroit and 5 of the top 15 agency offices in New York. Although each office was requested to provide a representative sample of respondents, the final 204 usable returns used in this study should be regarded as a convenience sample. The respondents reported on a total of 572 advertising campaigns. Subjects used in the survey development phase of the research were not eligible for use in the second phase. Demographics of the respondents are listed in Table 1. Due to the sensitive nature of the study, the names of the offices participating are withheld. Typical campaigns included consumer packaged goods, automotive, financial services, retail, healthcare, food/restaurant, beverages, telecommunications and digital/e-commerce client work. [Table 1 about here]

RESULTS Career History Patterns


Agency roles are hypothesized to be one of the main reasons for why some agency areas have different views on creativity. If one is focused on creating new advertising copy or art, this work guides one to certain views about what is appropriate. Likewise, if one is focused on developing strategies, then this work will guide one as well. However, if one has broad exposure to different areas within an agency, for example one previously has been a media researcher, account executive or creative, then these different views will temper the perspective gained from working in a different area. Therefore, the degree of specialization of ones career history will allow one to have more divergent views on what creativity is. It is hypothesized that creatives have the most specialized careers. Other areas, especially account and media will have more fragmented careers providing exposure to more areas. Because creatives have the most specialized careers, they therefore will have the opportunity to have the most unique views on creativity. To confirm the structure of agency experience hypothesized, we investigated the extent to which the career histories of employees in these four areas were specialized in one area or fragmented across several areas. If a career history was specialized, then a cluster analysis should reveal that those with a similar specialized history should all cluster together. Therefore, the degree to which clusters would form around certain positions would indicate how specialized a career history was. However, fragmented career histories, like those expected of account and media employees, should not fall as easily into clear clusters, and possibly may be merged into one cluster. To implement the analysis, we created fourteen indicator variables such that they equalled 1 if the respondent currently works or previously worked in each of the fourteen areas. Otherwise, they indicators equalled 0. These were then subjected to a two step cluster analysis procedure as recommended by Punj and Stewart (1983). The first step was to determine the number of clusters and identify outliers, and we used Wards minimum


distance cluster analysis with various trim percentages. At a 5% trim, cluster membership became stable. We were not able to confirm that there were four clusters, but instead found a similar structure such that creative experience was split into art and copy experience clusters. The other three clusters were interpreted as account/strategy, media/research, and all other positions. With five clusters and outliers identified, we then used an iterative K-means technique to finalize the analysis. Four of the five seeds were identified as persons with only creativeart, creative-copy, account management, and other experience. A fifth seed was defined as a person with only media research and media buying experience. These five seeds were consistent with theory and were also the closest person to the cluster profile suggested by the initial Wards cluster analysis. The final solution was obtained with six iterations and the criterion based on the final seeds is .24556. The overall R2 is 28.5% and the cubic clustering criterion is 20.787. Table 2 presents the cross tabulation between the current position and the cluster each career history is assigned to. Given that current position was used as one of the inputs for the cluster analysis, to some extent the classification table is subject to a part-whole effect. Because the average number of positions held by employees were 2.37, 1.72, 2.27 and 2.21 for account/strategy, creative, media/research and other respectively, one would expect that a random classification model would predict 60.0%. However, this model classifies correctly 83.5% of the subjects into clusters associated with their current position or well above chance level (2=36.6 with 15 df, p=.002). [Table 2 about here] This analysis so far fails to find that account/strategy employees have similar career histories as those in media/research because two clusters were found instead of one. However, these two employment areas do have a modest level (9.4%) of misclassification between them. Three persons who are currently in the account/strategy area came out of the


media/research career history and five people who are currently in the media/research area came out of a account/strategy area. However, the highest level of misclassification was associated with the all-other cluster. It is important to note that five of the six subjects who were in other current positions and who also had an account/strategy career history were working in the operations area. Also five of the six who were currently creatives and also were part of the other career history cluster, had identified their previous careers as other and so we are unable to trace the degree to which these careers are related to creative. To complete the picture of whether there is significant overlap in career histories between current positions, one also needs to consider the cluster profile means. The variable means of the cluster analysis is listed in Table 3. Because the variables were all 0-1 dichotomous variables, the cluster profile means can also be interpreted as the percent of subjects in that cluster who currently have or previously had that type of experience. This analysis shows more overlap between the media/research, account/strategy and other career histories, and less overlap with other areas for creative career histories. Where overlap occurs in the creative career histories, it is for production and other positions. For example, creatives may start out as an art buyer or an art production assistant and then move on to the creative department, but few seem to work significantly in the account or media areas. In contrast, there appears to be much more overlap between the account and media areas, with about 19% of the media/research cluster having experience in account areas and 29% of the account/strategy cluster having experience in media related areas. In addition, some 36% of the account/strategy cluster and 38% of the media/research cluster have worked in the areas associated with the other cluster, especially new business development. The data shows that creatives have more specialized careers and have more opportunity to develop unique views on creativity. Therefore, we find support for H2. [Table 3 about here]


Creativity Measurement Model To assess our measures of strategy, artistry and originality, these scales were factor analyzed using an oblique confirmatory rotation, procrustes, available in SAS. (Stewart 2001 for details of confirmatory mode factor analysis). The loadings shown in Table 4 and the resulting transformation confirm the hypothesized structure. Therefore, measures of strategy, artistry and originality were constructed by summing the items. A summary of these new measures is presented in Table 5. [Tables 4 and 5 about here] We then used the strategy, artistry and originality measures to predict the single item scale of subjective creativity. The final model for each area was selected using Mallows Cp statistic. The variables used in these analyses were the measures for strategy, artistry and originality, plus their interactions. Two indicator variables were applied to control for possible order effects identified by Runco and Charles (1992). More recent campaigns may be more memorable than earlier work and hence receive higher scores. Therefore we constructed Order1 and Order2 as indicator variables for the most recent and second most recent campaigns. The four final models are presented in Table 6. Thus, support was found for H1 in that perceptions of originality and strategy are predictors for account, media, and research executives, yet additional analysis was required to confirm support for the second half of H1. [Table 6 about here] Because there is an interaction for creatives between originality and strategy, the interpretation of the one-way effect is unclear. To get a better understanding of the full effect, an additional analysis was performed. First, we computed predicted subjective creativity using the parameters for originality, strategy and their interaction only. Then, we did a median split on each of the one way variables and plotted their mean level of predicted


subjective creativity in a 2 X 2 matrix shown in Table 7. This data demonstrates that for low levels of originality, strategy has a negative effect on subjective creativity. However, when originality is high, then strategy has a positive effect on subjective creativity. Although it was originally anticipated in H1 that perceptions of artistry and originality should predict subjective creativity for creative executives, the net predicted effect of strategy and originality was an unexpected outcome. As a result, it was impossible to only look at artistry and originality without considering the mitigating effect of strategy, both positive and negative. Indeed, artistry is important, but it is typically taken for granted that great creative work is also artistic in nature. Taking into account the strategy interaction with originality explained the finding that creatives feel strategy must be high on originality for them to do their very best work. [Table 7 about here]

DISCUSSION Apples, Oranges and Creatives. A frequently heard comment in advertising practice is: Everyone knows that advertising agency creatives are different. This study has confirmed that even their perspective of creativity is different, as compared to others in the same agency. It is no surprise that creatives are misunderstood, given the widely dispersed perspectives in creativity research in both the academic and practitioner realms. It could be that creatives are so different because they have been insulated more than other members of the agency. By being buffered from the daily account, budget and client work, they may be more eager to work on major changes in strategic direction and perhaps less enthusiastic on more mundane creative executions. However, the fact that strategy is very important, along with originality and artistry, demonstrates the notion that creatives require strategy as stimuli in the form of a brief, as much as they need artistry and originality.


In exploring this result with advertising practitioners, one agency EVP noted that "there is nothing more terrifying to a creative than for an account guy or client to simply say "go make me an ad and do anything you want to do!" Although creatives have a love-hate relationship with boundaries, the fact is that a strategy on a brief provides parameters and gives them latitude to define the opportunity, like a canvas for a painting. Great strategy provides a differentiation approach, a key insight, beyond the basic product, a hook to hang their work on that they can feel good about!" Alternatively, an obscure, poor, or absent strategy may signal a very negative direction for the creative that could hinder the quality of their output. This could explain our finding that for high levels of originality, strategy has a positive affect, but for low levels of originality, strategy has a negative effect on subjective creativity. The subtle complexities of these interactions must be carefully examined to avoid assumptions and conclusions, which have further complicated creativity research. Just as Amabile (1996), and Runco and Charles (1993) found that there is typically high agreement on originality judgements, we concur in our findings that originality predicts subjective creativity consistently across all groups. However, our study also found a distinctive difference in how creatives privilege the originality component of strategy, often elevating it above artistry. Perhaps it is this combination of originality and strategy that provides the spark that Guilford (1963) views as the "aha" flash of insight, in which a new creative idea takes shape. Or could it be that strategy facilitates the value dimension of creative products that Young (1985) referred to in his work. Kover and Goldberg (1995) discuss the differences in boundary roles that may contribute to the variance between creatives and account executives similar to our findings in originality and strategy measures. In Sternberg's (1999) confluence of components, creativity is hypothesized to involve more than a simple sum. Interactions may also occur between components such as intelligence and motivations, in which high levels on both could multiplicatively enhance creativity (Sternberg


1999). Likewise, high levels of strategy and originality, combined with artistry result in breakthroughs in creative potential -- a multiplicative effect that the creatives instinctually recognize. One concern from the data is the marginal significance of artistry for account executives. It may be that with a larger sample size, the effect would meet the traditional .05 level cut off. That is, in some unexpected way the perspective on creativity shared by creatives has also become associated with the view of creativity of a group they work mostly closely with, account executives. Or it may be that the effect is spurious. More research is called for on this issue. Limitations. Some of the limitations of this study include the typical issues associated with survey research in terms of time and access. The survey was conducted in person by the researchers on site at the agencies in order to ensure response rates and efficacy. A brief introduction was given at the beginning of the survey time period and any questions were addressed individually by the researchers. There was a time limitation since subjects took the survey during normal lunch periods at their respective agencies. Often food was provided in an effort to allow more time for participants to complete the questionnaire. Finally, location of the actual survey administration and collection was targeted based on management counsel and discretion, especially in the very large agencies, in order to get the optimal response. Although our sample may be deemed as an advertising agency convenience sample, it was carefully selected and stratified in order to reflect the top ten agencies in the designated markets. Within this stratification schema, the key internal departmental areas were proportionately distributed in the sample. Additionally, candidates were screened to have worked on at least three different client campaigns, and/or have spent at least five years in an ad agency environment.


Future Research Implications. To researchers interested in understanding advertising creativity, it is frustrating to confirm that what has been long suspected: perceptions of creative advertising differ depending on whom one asks. If judgements differ from area to area within advertising agencies, this may preclude researchers from developing measures of advertising creativity valid across all possible respondents. Because valid measurement is typically the basis of insightful research, the lack of research progress on advertising creativity should not be surprising. However, there are two approaches interested researchers may take to do future research in advertising creativity. The first is that prospective researchers who use Amabile's (1996) consensual approach to measurement need to use groups of subjects who share similar perspectives of creativity. Indeed any questionnaire that uses the term "creativity" without being clear about what the researchers define as "appropriate" may be problematic. For example, in studies on small groups of creatives, it may be acceptable to use the consensual approach. Other, different studies on account executives may independently use the same methods. But, mixing the two groups may leave consensual creativity measures prone to aggregation bias. A second approach would take creativity and break it down into its specific components. Originality and appropriateness could be measured independently, and a composite used as a measure of creativity. Alternatively, the context of the advertising problem or a definition of appropriateness could be provided to subjects. This way, all subjects in a given study would be thinking about creativity in the same way and measures would be comparable and reliable. There are positives and negatives to either approach. The first method allows subjects to use their own rich, complex and detailed views of creativity, but is not easily generalizable.


The second is more generalizable, but depends on an objective definition of what is appropriate. However, to understand creativity, there must be a starting point. Future researchers may also take into consideration the situational environment necessary to produce creative advertising. Oddly, many of the situational elements of practicing advertising employees are generally associated with declines in creativity. For example, advertising creatives regularly have their output evaluated quantitatively and feel threatened by it (Morgan 1984/1985; Vaughn 1982/1983; Wells 1983). Yet, Amabile's (1996) model makes it clear that evaluation is a sure way to decrease creativity. Advertising careers offer little job security and agencies are often rife with politics, both of which would decrease the internal motivation necessary for truly creative work. This paradox needs to be understood more clearly and additional research is invited.


Table 1 Sample Demographics

Gender Age

Highest level of education

Have you ever worked on the client side? Rank

Area of current position


Male Female 18-14 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65+ High school Some college Associate degree Creative design/art program Bachelor degree Graduate degree No Yes CEO/COO Executive Vice President Managing Director Senior Vice President Vice President Director Manager Executive Specialist Other Account/strategy Creative Media Other Detroit New York

Frequency 116 87 22 85 58 34 2 1 5 13 5 10 139 31 177 25 3 6 3 22 18 15 25 15 28 55 71 74 26 34 140 60

Percent 57.1 42.9 10.9 42.1 28.7 16.8 1.0 .5 2.5 6.4 2.5 4.9 68.5 15.3 87.6 12.4 1.6 3.2 1.6 11.6 9.5 7.9 13.2 7.9 14.7 28.9 34.6 36.1 12.7 16.6 70 30


Table 2 Cross Tabulation between an Agency Employees Current Position and Career History Cluster Career History Clusters Current Position Account/ Strategy Account/Strategy Creative Media/Research Other Total 60 1 5 6 72 Creative, Copy 2 29 0 2 33 Creative, Art 0 33 0 0 33 Media/ Research 3 0 17 1 21 All Other 3 6 3 23 35 Total 68 69 25 32 194


Table 3 Cluster Means of Five Career History Clusters

Creative, Art Creative-art Creative-copy Creative-broadcast Creative-other Account management Strategic/account planning Research Media planning/research Media buying Production/operations IMC/direct/database New business development Electronic/interactive Other Cluster size 17.1 100 0 6.1 9.1 0 0 0 0 0 6.1 0 3.0 0 6.1

Creative, Copy 9.1 100 9.1 6.4 12.1 0 0 6.1 0 12.1 0 6.1 6.1 15.2 17.1

Account/ Strategy 0 1.4 0 1.4 100 19.4 11.1 9.7 12.5 15.3 11.1 19.4 8.3 8.3 37.1

Media/ Research 0 0 0 0 19.0 4.8 14.3 90.5 66.7 9.5 4.8 14.3 9.5 9.5 10.8 All Other 0 0 2.9 0 0 11.4 17.1 0 0 25.7 8.6 11.4 11.4 51.4 18.0


Table 4 Rotated Factor Pattern for Strategy, Artistry and Originality by Current Position Area

Compared to other advertisement/campaigns with the same media approach, this advertisement/ campaign was on-strategy a good fit with the clients strategy an appropriate strategy for the client built on good strategy able to stand on its own as art could be appreciated as a work of art emotionally expressive artistically sophisticated original unexpected novel different Variance explained after eliminating other factors Variance explained after ignoring other factors Strategy .785 .819 .837 .768 -.014 -.073 .144 .011 .033 -.013 -.006 -.047 2.23 3.35 Artistry -.074 -.141 .158 .130 .957 .992 .542 .691 .113 -.050 .127 .051 1.52 4.67 Originality .094 .125 -.183 -.073 -.067 -.082 .194 .201 .744 .947 .766 .886 1.56 4.87


Table 5 Summary of Measures for Strategy, Artistry and Originality

Number of Items Strategy Artistry Originality 4 4 4 Mean 7.94 1.97 3.63

Standard Deviation 3.67 5.79 5.50 Minimum -10 -12 -12 Maximum 12 12 12

Cronbachs Alpha .813 .874 .902


Table 6 Effects of Strategy, Artistry and Originality on Subjective Creativity by Current Position Current account Current creative position Unstandardized Unstandardized or strategy position Current media or research position Unstandardized Unstandardized Other current position




Intercept Strategy Artistry Originality Strategy X Originality Order1 R2 Overall p Number of observations ***p<.001 **p<.01 *p<.05 #p<.10

3.40 -.047** .032** .038* .007*** -.165 .209 .245 .436

2.67 .070*** .021# .061*** .297 .143 .378

2.81 .068** .327

2.39 .092*** .400




.212* .595 .0001 221 .443 .0001 191

.121 .333 .0001 66

.233# .468 .0001 93

Standardized .436 .130


Table 7 Net Predicted Effect of Strategy and Originality on Subjective Creativity

Strategy Low Low Originality High -.136 .468 High -.320 1.042



Amabile, Teresa M. (1979), "Effects of External Evaluation of Artistic Creativity," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37 (2), 221-233. Amabile, Teresa M. (1983), "Social Psychology of Creativity: A Componential Conceptualization, " Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 357-377. Amabile, Teresa M. (1996), Creativity in Context (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press). Andrews, Jonlee and Daniel C. Smith (1996), "In Search of the Marketing Imagination: Factors Affecting the Creativity of Marketing Programs for Mature Products," Journal of Marketing Research, 33 (May), 174-187. Barron, F. and D. M. Harrington (1981), "Creativity, Intelligence, and Personality," in Annual Review of Psychology, 32, 439-476. Becker, Madelle (1995), "Nineteenth-Century Foundations of Creativity Research," Creativity Research Journal, 8 (3), 219-229. Belch, George E. and Michael A. Belch (2001), Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective, (Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin). Bengtson, Timothy A. (1982), "Creativity's Paradoxical Character: A Postscript to James Webb Young's Technique for Producing Ideas," Journal of Advertising, 11 (1), 3-9. Blasko, Vincent J. and Michael P. Mokwa (1986), "Creativity in Advertising: A Janusian Perspective," Journal of Advertising, 15 (4), 43-50, 72. Bogart, Leo (1988/1989), "Advertising: Art, Science, or Business?" Journal of Advertising Research, 28 (December/January), 47-52. Cattell, R. B. (1971), Abilities: Their Structure, Growth and Action, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin). De Bono, Edward (1971), Lateral Thinking for Management, (New York: McGraw-Hill).


Dillon, Tom (1975), "The Triumph of Creativity Over Communication," Journal of Advertising, 4 (3), 15-18. Durgee, Jeffrey F. (1985/1986), "Depth-Interview Techniques for Creative Advertising," Journal of Advertising Research, 25 (December/January), 29-37. Eindhoven, J. E. and W. E. Vinacke (1952), "Creative Process in Painting," Journal of General Psychology, 47, 139-164. Feldhusen, John F. and Ban Eng Goh (1995), "Assessing and Accessing Creativity: An Integrative Review of Theory Research, and Development," Creativity Research Journal, 8 (3), 231-247. Frazer. Charles F. (1983), "Creative Strategies: A Management Perspective," Journal of Advertising, 12 (4), 36-41. Gagnard, Alice and James E. Swartz (1988/1989), "Top American Advertising Managers View Agencies and Research," Journal of Advertising Research, 28 (December/January), 35-40. Guilford, J. P. (1950), "Creativity," American Psychologist, 5, 444-454. Guilford, J. P. (1963), "An Informational Theory of Creative Thinking," USAF Instructors' Journal, 1, 28-33. Guilford, J.P. (1968), Creativity, Intelligence and their Educational Implications, (San Diego: Knapp). Haberland, G. S. and P. A. Dacin (1992), "The Development of a Measure to Assess Viewers' Judgements of the Creativity of an Advertisement-A Preliminary Study," Advances in Consumer Research, vol. 19, 817-825. Hirschman, Elizabeth C. (1989), "Role-Based Models of Advertising Creation and Production," Journal of Advertising, 18 (4), 42-53.


Kasof, Joseph (1995), "Explaining Creativity: The Attributional Perspective," Journal of Creativity Research, 8 (4), 311-366. Keil, J. M. (1975), "Can You Become a Creative Judge?" Journal of Advertising, 4 (1), 2931. Kover, Arthur J. (1995), "Copywriters' Implicit Theories of Communication: An Exploration," Journal of Consumer Research, 21 (March), 596-611. Kover, Arthur J. and Stephen M. Goldberg (1995), "The Games Advertising Copywriters Play: Conflict, Quasi-Control, A New Proposal," Journal of Advertising Research, 35 (July/August), 52-62. Kover, Arthur J., Stephen M. Goldberg and William L. James (1995), "Creativity Vs. Effectiveness?: An Integrating Classification for Advertising," Journal of Advertising Research, 35 (November/December), 29-40. Kover, Arthur J., William L. James and Brenda S. Sonner (1997), "To Whom Do Advertising Creatives Write?: An Inferential Answer," Journal of Advertising Research, 37 (January/February), 41-53. Kubie, L. S. (1961), Neurotic Distortion of the Creative Process (New York: Noonday). MacKinnon, D. (1965), "Personality and the Realization of Creative Potential," American Psychologist, 20, 273-281. Matthews, J. E. (1975), "A Two-Course Survey of Creative Country," Journal of Advertising, 4 (2), 13-16. Mellou, Eleni (1996), "The Two-Conditions View of Creativity," Journal of Creative Behavior, 30 (2), 126-143. Michell, Paul C. (1984), "Accord and Discord in Agency-Client Perceptions of Creativity," Journal of Advertising Research, 24 (October/November), 9-24.


Morgan, Anthony I. (1984/1985), "Point of View: Who's Killing the Great Advertising Campaigns of America?" Journal of Advertising Research, 24 (December/January), 33-35. Mumford, Machael D., Elizabeth P. Supinski, Wayne A. Baughman, David P. Constanza and K. Victoria Threlfall (1997), "Process-Based Measures of Creative Problem-Solving Skills: V. Overall Prediction," Creativity Research Journal, 10 (1), 73-85. Mumford, Michael D., Wayne A. Baughman, Michelle A. Maher, David P. Constanza, and Elizabeth P. Supinski (1997), "Process-Based Measures of Creative Problem-Solving Skills: IV. Category Combination," Creativity Research Journal, 10 (1), 59-71. Mumford, Michael D. and Sigrid B. Gustafson (1988), "Creativity Syndrome: Integration, Application, and Innovation," Psychological Bulletin, 103 (1), 27-43. Osborn, Alex F. (1953), Applied Imagination (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons). Patrick, Catherine (1937), "Creative Thought in Artists," Journal of Psychology, 4, 35-73. Plucker, Jonathan A. and Joseph S. Renzulli (1999), "Psychometric Studies of Creativity," in Handbook of Creativity, Robert J. Sternberg, ed. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press), 35-61. Politz, A. (1975), "Creativeness and Imagination," Journal of Advertising, 4 (3), 11-14. Polonsky, Michael Jay and David S. Waller (1995), "Does Winning Advertising Awarads Pay?: The Australian Experience," Journal of Advertising Research, 35 (January/February), 25-36. Punj, Girish and David W. Stewart (1983), "Cluster Analysis in Marketing Research: Review and Suggestions for Application," Journal of Marketing Research, 20 (May), 134-148. Reid, Leonard N. (1977), "Are Advertising Educators Good Judges of Creative Talent?" Journal of Advertising, 6 (3), 41-43.


Reid, Leonard N. and Herbert J. Rotfeld (1976), "Toward an Associative Model of Advertising Creativity," Journal of Advertising, 5 (4), 24-29. Reid, Leonard N., Karen Whitehall King and Denise E. DeLorme (1998), "Top-Level Agency Creatives Look at Advertising Creativity Then and Now," Journal of Advertising, 27 (Summer), 1-16. Rossman, J. (1931), The Psychology of the Inventor, (Washington, D.C.: Inventors Publishing Company). Rothenberg, R. and C. R. Hausman (1976), The Creativity Question (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press). Rothenberg, Randall (1994), Where the Suckers Moon: An Advertising Story (New York: Alfred A. Knopf). Runco, Mark A. and Robyn Charles (1993), "Judgments of Originality and Appropriateness as Predictors of Creativity," Personality and Individual Differences, 15 (5), 537-546. Russell, J. T. and E. Winter (1973), "Psychographics and Creativity," Journal of Advertising, 2 (1), 32-35. Sethi, Rajesh, Daniel C. Smith and C. Whan Park (2001), "Cross-Functional Product Development Teams, Creativity, and the Innovativeness of New Consumer Products," Journal of Marketing Research, 38 (February), 73-85. Stephens, E. and T. Burke (1974), "Zen Theory and the Creative Course," Journal of Advertising, 3 (2), 38-41. Sternberg, Robert J. and Todd I. Lubart (1996), "Investing in Creativity," American Psychologist, 51 (7), 677-688. Sternberg, Robert J. and Todd I. Lubart (1999), "The Concept of Creativity: Prospects and Paradigms," in Handbook of Creativity, Robert J. Sternberg, ed, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press), 3-15.


Stewart, David W. (2001), Stewart, David W. (1992), Speculations on the Future of Advertising Research, Journal of Advertising, 21 (3), September, 1-18. Stone, Gerald, Donna Besser and Loran E. Lewis (2000), "Recall, Liking, and Creativity in TV Commercials: A New Approach," Journal of Advertising Research, 40 (May/June), 7-18. Torrance, E. P. (1974). Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking: Norms -technical manual, (Lexington: Ginn). Vanden Bergh, Bruce G., Leonard N. Reid and Gerald A. Schorin (1983), "How Many Creative Alternatives to Generate?" Journal of Advertising, 12 (4), 46-49. Vanden Bergh, Bruce G., Sandra J. Smith and Jan L. Wicks (1986), "Internal Agency Relationships: Account Services and Creative Personnel," Journal of Advertising, 15 (2), 55-60. Vaughn, Richard L. (1982/1983), "Point of View: Creatives versus Researchers: Must They Be Adversaries?" Journal of Advertising Research, 22 (December/January), 45-48. Wallas, G. (1926), The Art of Thought, (New York: Harcourt, Brace). Wells, Donald H. (1996), "Forced Incubation," Creativity Research Journal, 9 (4), 407-409. Wells, William D. (1983), "Point of View: How to End the Never Ending," Journal of Advertising Research, 23 (April/May), 67-68. White, G. E. (1972), "Creativity: The X Factor in Advertising Theory," Journal of Advertising, 1 (1), 28-32. Young, Charles E. (2000), "Creative Differences between Copywriters and Art Directors," Journal of Advertising Research, 40 (May), 19-26. Young, John G. (1985), "What Is Creativity?" Journal of Creative Behavior, 19 (2), 77-87.


Zinkhan, George M. (1993), "Creativity in Advertising," Journal of Advertising, 22 (June), 13.