Although there is an extended knowledge of the importance of being creative in advertising, no conclusive research has been done in relation to its effectiveness. Researchers are trying to breach this gap by bringing into perspective previous research results in the fields of marketing, psychology, and largely, advertising. On this basis, we will review advertising in two scenarios, which are divergence and relevance in advertising.

In this paper, the effects of divergence and relevance of an advertisement as well impact on consumer processing and response are scrutinized and conclusions are made. A wide-ranging theory of creative advertising is then advanced, which involves researching in five different spectrums or processes: advertising as a social process, as a personal process, as a communication process, as a management process, and lastly as a group process.

Importance of Creativity in Advertising

The competitive nature of businesses demands extensive advertising so that the information about the existence of the product or service in question reaches a potential consumer. The fact that many, if not all, producers use advertising to reach their target consumers means that, for a business to have the edge over its competitors, creativity has to come into play. Thus, creativity and advertising should be closely interrelated. Creativity is an important factor in the success of advertising. Advertising has become an essential part of the companies’ progress such that even special advertising departments with highly paid employees have been created (Duke & Sutherland, 2001).

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Regardless of the significance associated with creativity, there has been little or no study of this subject in advertising and marketing. That is why there has been little progress in the subject.

Consequently, the chief goal of this paper is to:

  • Describe creativity and its components;
  • Explain the importance of creativity in advertising;
  • Examine trends in the advertising industry;
  • Examine the theoretical issues concerning ad divergence and/or originality as well as relevance/effectiveness and consumer reception of both divergence and relevance;
  • Determine a structured format for a universal supposition that will consider a broad spectrum and relationship between creativity and advertising (Duke, &Sutherland 2001).


According to the definition given in the dictionary, creativity is the ability to rise above rules, traditional ideas, relationships, patterns, etc., and to generate meaningful fresh forms, ideas, methods, and interpretations. It can also be defined as the use of imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. These two definitions underscore the two primary components of creativity. The first one is that there must be something unique, imaginative, new or different – this determinant is commonly referred to as divergence. The second component is relevance since the imagined object created must be a solution to the issue at hand (Duke, 2000).

New businesses and products appear daily, which leads to an increased competition in the market. The nature of the products also largely affects competition. To have the upper hand in conquering the market, a producer will have to create ways to present his/her product to his/her consumers better than the competitor does. These can be also called marketing strategies.

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Advert versus Personal Creativity

Creativity comes about when people generate original and unique ideas and inventions that convey relevance. However, these components depend on the social recognition criterion. Hence, an ad might be creative to one group of people but not to another, i.e. an ad may be appealing to the youth and not to the older generation. In the end, advertisements are considered as products of people in the same way as ideas and inventions. For that reason, the idea of relevance and divergence can be useful when it comes to what people create, which includes advertisements. This is imperative because there are three diverse creativity forms that are associated with advertising.

First, there is the workforce whose work is to create and carry out a creative plan. They are the ones tasked with the production of the advert. Second, the target market has to feel some creativity in the ad. Thirdly, the target audience exposed to the ad has to be a bit creative to perceive the message in it. Whereas there are relations between these three types of creativity, the defining characteristics of creativity cannot be altered. Instead, the framework changes (Duke, 2000).

Creativity and Psychology

To completely account for creativity, a structure of intellect model was developed and it attempted to categorize all of human intuition in three scopes:

  1. Six results of the processes on the substance. They are relations, classes, units, systems, transformations, and implications.
  2. Four kinds of substance to which the processes are applied.
  3. Five thought processes; these include cognition, memory, evaluation, and, divergent as well as convergent production.

Creativity is explained as an original thought and it is an important constituent of human intelligence. This means that all consumers have the potentiality to recognize creative motivation and react to it in a good way (Duke & Sutherland, 2001).

Another model suggests that there are two stages of creativity:

1.Primary creativeness, which comes from the unknown and which is the foundation of new discoveries. This is termed as real freshness and is comparable to the originality concept of creativity.
2.Secondary creativeness, which is built on past knowledge and is based on reasoning, common sense, and logic. This is an equivalent of the relevance element in most descriptions of creativity.

Trends in the Advertising Industry

The new trend of the advertising industry was a focus on the dynamics of advertisement and its contribution to the economy of the country. Advertisement greatly contributed to gross domestic product. This shows that advertising expenses with regard to magazines highly increased compared to the previous campaigns. This is largely due to the technological advancement, mainly the internet. The creation of social sites and social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many other sites on the internet has largely revolutionized advertising. Advertising companies have had to adjust to these changes accordingly and shift from the print media and traditional methods of advertisement to the Internet. Consequently, the ad has to be of a higher creative level to capture the attention of the target audience who tend to have higher expectations.

The industry is now going online for the reason that many consumers nowadays have the tendency to use the internet more. The market online offers major potential opportunities for advertisers. Because of the low cost incurred in promotion, smaller firms can place their advertisements in front of millions of people with no time being wasted in carrying out the activity.
Technological knowledge makes it possible to gauge the effectiveness of publicity. This is done by including the number of customers who surf the internet to get services and hence end up clicking on the said promotion. The television, Mobile phones and other devices give promoters more access to clients. Due to the increase in the number of people accessing the internet as well popularity of social sites such as Facebook, the demand for catchy and high quality advertisement has dramatically increased. To meet the new demand and the new creative standards of the industry, the companies polish up their ad strategies as crowds of people use the Internet and media on a daily basis. Marketers can directly publicize their products online in order to get contact with customers, which have led to the developments in the line marketing such as email solicitations corporate websites and blogs. Below-the-line business appears to be overcrowding, while some above-the-line big companies spend more time on improving nd adapting of their strategy of advertising (Duke, 2000).

In spite of an uncountable number of blogs and websites, the online market is compacted. According to the statistics, the top ten advert-selling firms take account for a greater percentage of total online revenues advertising. The search advertising accounts took a great percentage of digital revenue advertising. An advertiser takes part in a continuing auction process to have his or her market displayed when a consumer types an inquiry into an engine search using a keyword that is given.

At the same time, the vast proliferation of online videos, ad-supported websites, and blogs has created a big supply than can be readily exploited, helping to lower advertising costs in both online and usual media markets, such as television and billboards.

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The Internet has negatively impacted the traditional media by not only increasing its share of consumer time spent but also by further diminishing the ad pricing power of the conventional media. Businesses are also discovering that it can be quite demanding to connect with online consumers who have more power to screen content through pop-ups, digital recording devices, and other types of technology of high aptitude levels.

With the digital consumers that are in control of their media experience and advertisers shifting their concentration to more interactive quantifiable formats, firms must go beyond the usual advertising methods; hence, there is the need for creativity. Firms have to adapt to the new methods and ways of marketing. For long time, advertisers have used demographic and other data to target audiences, but the internet, with its authentic riches of information regarding consumer behavior, is moving this practice to a new height. Advertisers are using behavioral advertising targeting ads using data collected as persons browse the web, register on websites or sign up for promotions together with search and other strategies. Businesses also aim at becoming a part of ongoing conversations of digital consumers. They tap into social networks and create mobile phone applications and work with popular bloggers (Besemer & Treffinger, 2001).

Many social and economic forces, including technological advancement, the population’s educational level, increases in population and income, and radical changes in lifestyle, are most noteworthy in the advancement of the advertising industry. Conclusively, the main reason why advertising is moving from the conventional media to the internet is that the cost of running ads online is much cheaper than the normal methods, which are both expensive and time-consuming. This means that to get the attention of an audience whose time is limited and who has a higher intelligence quotient level, the degree of creativity of the ad must be of a reputable standard (Berlyne, 1971).

Perception of Divergence and Creativity

Creative ads are perceived to be those that are relevant and divergent. Divergence is the first and the most fundamental characteristic exhibited in ads. Most advertisements that influence consumers are different, original, and unusual in one way or the other. While the ideology of divergence is vital and paramount in creativity, it has received little development in advertising and marketing. Divergence is represented as a one-dimensional creation with little development and representation in theories (Amabile, 1996). Yet, divergence is an important theme that plays an important role in the marketing creativity.

In defining creativity, relevance is also essential. The marketing ads can be relevant by being appropriate, meaningful, and valuable to the targeted population. Thus, relevance in marketing ads is a valuable stimulus. Relevance is related to the product that is being advertised as well as to the informational properties of the product that is marketed (Baer, 1993). For example, music can make the ad relevant in that its elements are blended to give the ad a meaning and add a new sense, which reflects the targeted population. In advertising marketing, producer-consumer relevance and ad-consumer relevance are two necessary aspects.

  • Producer–consumer Relevance. In this case, an ad creates a consequential connection between the target audience and the product.
  • Ad–consumer Relevance: This is achieved when incentive properties of the ad produce a considerable connection to the customer.

Advert Processing Model

The MacInnis and Jaworski advertising model

The studies have shown little reliability in functionality of advertisement creativity (Andrews & Smith, 1996). To provide a straightforward approach, the MacInnis and Jaworski model is used to spot the main incentives in response and processing variables. These are:

I. Pre-Attentive Processing

Ad processing starts with a pre-attentive phase. When consumer participation is less or there is confusion because of many adverts, it is often difficult for an ad to be noticed. To achieve the goal, the creativity applied in creating the ad must be top notch; that is it must be original, unique, and relevant to the target group (Amabile, 1996).

II. Motivation to Process

Once the attention of the buyer has been captured, keeping it is the next target. The consumer’s ability to process the ad and motivation are proportional to the total of attention accorded it.

III. Attention

The above model explains that the level of focus given to the ad is directly proportional to attention, specifically whether ad processing is a key or a minor task.

IV. Depth of Processing

This reveals the buyers’ level of perception of the advertisements’ information. This ranges from basic message detection to productive processes like linking the message to imagining the product in use, one’s personal life, or role taking.

V. Managerial Issues

Creation of advertisements requires funding. This is a managerial decision as to whether allocate this resource and in which scale.

General Theory of Advertising Creativity

The boundary between advertising and creativity has a broader conceptual sphere. It is therefore imperative to consider creativity in advertising in a number of different scenarios.

Creativity in Management

Advertising is a building block of product marketing and must be managed carefully so that sales are maximized. Creativity issues in management include:

  • Developing creative policies and strategies;
  • Hiring creative workforce;
  • Aiding a creative ambiance in the business;
  • Ascertaining if creative objectives are met;
  • Planning unique advertising crusades;
  • Perceiving and inspiring the creative processes (Clow, Roy & Baack, 2001).

Creativity in Communication

Advertising is the greatest means of communication between firms and their customers. The issues here include effects of creativity on consumer persuasion and response, processing information, and other variables that incorporate creativity and influence ad usefulness (Amabile, 1983).

Associated issues are:

  • Recognizing the likely negative effects of insipid advertisements;
  • Advising on new uses of presenting existing goods;
  • Encouraging consumers’ involvement in firms activities, for example in sales promotions;
  • Using creativity to improve the company’s image;
  • Initiating new products or product extensions.

Individuality in Creativity

Individual consumers can process and perceive creativity in advertising differently, which can have personal consequences. Therefore advertising is used as a basis for consumer self-realization, development, and creativeness.

Creativity in Groups

Creative advertising is usually a product of teamwork. It is, therefore, vital to assess how ideas are made in a team setting. The issues here include:

  • Effects of majority and minority:
  • Effects of such aspects as promotions, rewards and mood on the creation of unique thoughts;
  • The role of personality.

Societal Creativity

Advertising has noteworthy effects on the society that are directly related to creativity.

The concerns here are:

  • Effects on the norm;
  • Advertising as a profit-making activity;
  • Differences of processing creative advertisements across cultures;
  • Attraction to unfriendly consumer groups, for example, anti-consumption, and
  • Making use of adverts to inform patrons on important communal issues.

Product advertising has gone through numerous changes as the years go by. The proliferation of technology has greatly affected the development of working advertisements. The industry is undergoing major revolution because online advertising has become a major marketing strategy. The main reason why advertising is moving from the conventional media to the internet is that the cost of running ads online is much cheaper than the normal methods, which are both expensive and time-consuming. Thus, managements of various firms both small-scale and large scale have had to invest in online ads to reach their clients. Due to technology developments and education progress, the target audience has become more demanding and hence the ads have to be more catchy and creative. Thus, creativity has become an integral part of advertising.

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