Wizards vs Muggles: Mike Hutcheson reviews The Case For Creativity

Last week BrandWorld’s David MacGregor let his opinions be known about James Hurman’s new book The Case For Creativity. Now it’s ex-Colenso bod and adman par excellence Mike Hutcheson’s turn. 

I lament the publication of James Hurman’s book, not because it isn’t bloody good (it is), but because the eyes that should see it are blind and the ears that should hear its message are deaf, if it does reach those eyes and ears at all.

As Harry Potter knows, Muggles outnumber Wizards by about ten to one and, unfortunately, it’s the Muggles in the world who control the money and therefore have the power of life and death over investment in wizardly, if esoteric, things like creative advertising.

And that’s the problem. The ultimate controllers of advertising budgets are more concerned with ROI than cut-through, because their brains and training have taught them to measure what ‘is’ rather than what ‘might be’. They’re like sailors who chart their course by looking at the ship’s wake rather than the horizon.

Hurman has brought together compelling arguments, illustrated and supported with graphs and statistics, demonstrating the success of businesses that have shown creative courage and delivered not just improved sales performance, but improved share price too.

Already I can hear the Muggles saying “It’s OK for BMW or Nike, but we don’t have a budget that big!” Anticipating such responses, the author has used the success of some ad guys in Melbourne when selling a BMX bike on eBay. They bought it for $27.50 and sold it for five times as much after hyping it up with a bit of creative storytelling.

Again the Muggles will bray “But they spent $1000 of creative time to gain $100!”, which is a bit like finding a spelling mistake in a love-letter.

It’s the principle of the thing that’s important. In a competitive market of parity products, value can be added by applying thought and care that pings something out of the pack.

That’s good business and that’s the case for creativity. The trick is to get the message through.

  • James Hurman is a planner at Colenso BBDO. Check out the case studies here and buy the book here.

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