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China 2016: BUILDING BRAND VALUE | 6. CREATIVE QUALITY

Big creative ideas can turn strategy into magic

A lot depends on the big idea, the overarching thought that communicates the brand ofering and advantage in a compelling and memorable way. A great creative idea provokes reaction. It can turn strategy into magic.

The big idea is especially relevant in China. When Chinese consumers consider a purchase, the top brands in the category may come to mind, but too often they are not distinctive. Local Chinese brands have successfully built Salience, but not Diference. A strong ad with a creative big idea can supply the critical point of Diference.
The right idea also helps cut through the manifold distractions of so much communication, especially on social media. Marketing communication that lacks a creative big idea risks becoming just more noise. A recent case study illustrates the point.
In one of China’s most expensive ad campaigns, a used car brand recently hired 10 celebrities to appear during a series of 60-second spots inserted around a favorite TV program. The celebrities exhorted viewers to visit the brand’s website, a total of 20 times in each ad. Millward Brown’s LinkNow research found the audience disengaged and unmotivated to purchase second hand cars as a result of the ad.
 

The ad failed to engage and motivate because repetition of a message alone is not a recipe for communication success. The message needs to include a credible benefit. A message presented at a high decibel level, but without a benefit, often is experienced as intrusive, irritating, and disturbing – even if celebrities are doing the shouting. 
Audiences respond more positively when brands communicate with a creative big idea. In BrandZ™ research ranking advertising by the level of consumer approval, the Top 10 Brands score 26 percent higher in Brand Power, a BrandZ™ measurement of competitiveness, and 30 percent higher in brand value, than the next 10 brands.
The message needs to reach the right audiences, of course. Winning brands are the ofspring of harmonious marriages, where a creative big idea and a well-conceived media plan work in concert. The Top 10 brands, in the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands, increased digital media investment by an average of 20 percent in 2015. In contrast, the 10 brands that dropped from the Top 100 ranking decreased digital media investment by an average of 52 percent. The losing brands also slashed overall media investment by a third, while the winning brands only moderated spending, even in a turbulent year.
 

Implications for Brands

With creative big ideas Chinese brands can diferentiate from the competition in compelling and memorable ways. Achieving that goal requires working with marketing communication specialists that respect and cultivate creativity, have the research and analytics acumen to determine the right strategy, and the media expertise to shape the best implementation plan. Winning brands maintain significant media investment even in difcult times.