A post by Marc Babej on Being Reasonable has triggered off lots of talk - not least on the W&K London blog and at Fresh Glue.
Marc has a point - creativity for the sake of creativity tends to be ineffective (Outpost.com, pets.com anyone?) and harms the ad industry. That's one of the main reasons I'm increasingly concerned about clients' desires for non-traditional stunts that are cool but don't seem to be rooted in an idea that solves a problem.
But, I believe there is a difference between relevant and irrelevant creativity. When you use creativity to offer a new idea; frame a problem in a fresh way that is relevant to a brand and its potential audience, there is nothing more powerful - just look at the work TBWA have produced for Apple, W&K's work for Nike and Honda or Method's entry into the world of homecare. In fact, the Gunn Report has shown that of the ads awarded at major creative award shows, over 80% have been proven to show positive contribution to business. So being creative it seems pays more than not being creative.
In a world where studies are showing increasing brand commoditization (Copernicus Consulting's research shows people seeing increasingly homoegenous brands in 4 out of 5 categories); increasingly similar ads (Harvard Business Review has shown research that claims only 8% of people see a difference between the ads for brands in the same category) and the real need to engage people not simply interrupt them, then there has never been a bigger business need for creativity be it at the business, brand or communications level. The thing we have to remember is creativity is a means to an end, not an end in itself.