Is advertising a science or an art?
Bill Bernbach famously quipped: “Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science but an art.”
Bernbach was writing in 1947, railing against advertising ‘technicians.’ It begs the question what might his views have been on generative AI and the increasingly complex martech stack employed by brands today.
Since Bernbach’s memo, the advertising landscape has been fundamentally changed through successive rounds of technological innovation. The internet, social media, the Metaverse, AI: each has forced advertisers to adapt their approach and techniques to survive. Advertising has become increasingly technical, with much clearer emphasis on performance metrics and impact.
With data and technology forming an unavoidable part of a marketing strategy in 2023, how can these elements be married with an understanding of advertising as rooted in art?
Two prominent figures in advertising today - Aude Gandon, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Nestlé, and Patricia Corsi, Chief Marketing and Digital Innovation Officer, Bayer - both recently commented on the continuing need to combine science and art in advertising.
Speaking at DMEXCO last month, Aude Gandon described marketing as “a blend of science and art.” She cautioned against getting too caught up with shiny new tech, viewing technology as the foundation not the end product of marketing.
To achieve the best results, Gandon believes new technology needs to be paired with the fundamentals of marketing. “The science of the new digital tools, the science of the new data, is in service of the thing we’ve always known and we’ve always done, which is the art of creativity.”
When Gandon took over as Nestlé’s Global Chief Marketing Officer, she was tasked with rolling out a digital-first marketing strategy, to achieve 100% integrated communication by the end of 2023. Nestlé needed a single solution across over 2000 brands to centralize and scale adherence to key platform validated best practices.
As she cited in her DMEXCO talk, one of the foundational technologies brought into Nestlé’s marketing toolkit was CreativeX. "It has enabled our brand builders to get completely free from the digital checklist that they were using constantly to make sure that their YouTube content, their Instagram content, their TikTok content, was actually answering the requirements of the individual platform. As a result, we saw a 66% increase on our [return on] media investment on Meta."
Also addressing the question of advertising as art v. science, in an interview with CreativeX, Bayer’s Chief Marketing and Digital Information Officer Patricia Corsi explained “There is a little bit of science and a little bit of magic in creativity.”
Corsi’s core ambition is to help consumers take control of their everyday health, empowering people through informative and creatively excellent advertising. “Creative excellence, for me, is a very clear path to best serve the consumers and customers… [it’s] holding ourselves to the highest standards on how we communicate our brands and what they can do to improve people's lives.”
Prior to 2021, Bayer’s marketers didn’t have a consistent approach, definition and KPI to measure Creative Quality at scale and in real time. Realizing their overarching goal meant being able to communicate their brand’s value clearly and effectively through consistently high quality creative.
→ What’s Creative Quality, and why should you be tracking it?
Since partnering with CreativeX, Bayer has driven a 24 ppt increase in its Creative Quality Score. This improvement has driven improvements in other key metrics. Higher quality creatives were associated with a 1.7% decrease in CPM, and a 107% increase in brand uplift on YouTube.
At the end of her speech, Aude Gandon rebuffed creativity’s naysayers. “Creativity is not dead. Creativity is being reinvented, and it looks pretty exciting to me.”
This reinvention is grounded in an understanding of the importance of embracing technology, but also acknowledging that to have an impact, technology needs to enhance and not replace human creativity.
Both Nestlé and Bayer have equipped their marketing teams to make data-informed creative decisions, ensuring that their digital ads are set up for success.
Interested to learn more about how this technology could impact your brand? Get in touch!