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08/01/2009 - par Mark Tungate (tungateinparis@hotmail.com)

A former student of mine from Parsons Paris School of Design is writing a thesis about the importance of creativity in advertising. The other day, he asked me if there was any way of proving that creativity actually worked when it came to building brands. Yes, it's the old «does creativity sell?» debate.

While we were talking, a thought occurred to me. I asked him where he sees advertising spots. He admitted that he rarely watches television. In fact, he watches ads on YouTube. I asked him how he found out about them. «Friends recommend them,» he told me. And why do they recommend them? «Because they're funny, interesting – different.» In other words: because they're creative. So there's the answer. Now we go looking for advertising rather than waiting for it to come to us, creativity is not a luxury. It's an essential.

We've heard a lot over the last few weeks about advertising agencies and traditional media companies cutting staff in the face of the crisis. I hope the people being fired are overpaid executives and accountants, rather than writers, artists and filmmakers – but I fear the worst. After all, the creative people are rarely the ones making those decisions.

Some suits may think they can survive this crisis by letting talent go. The opposite is the case. They should invest in creativity now. Because when the economy recovers, the creative companies will emerge as the survivors. And then my friend will have all the proof he needs.

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