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    WFA research finds marketers are failing to fully exploit their creative potential

    New research compiled by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has found that many members are failing to fully realize their creative potential, as entrenched barriers such as a risk-averse culture, short-termism and too many cooks stymy progress among 51%, 48% and 44% of respondents respectively.

    Clients and Creativity focused on the client’s role in arresting the decline of creativity in advertising, with the perennial bugbear of reductions in budgets cited by 40% of clients for holding them back.

    When playing the blame game, 21% attributed slow progress to an overemphasis on data and analytics, while 17% cited the shift to digital and 9% pointed the finger at ever more tightly defined audiences. Surprisingly, recruitment was only reported as a barrier by 29%, while 23% blamed a shortage of talent within their organizations. 

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    A failure to make headway is all the more galling for the disparity between those who appreciate creativity as a marketing ‘superpower’ and those who do not. Among those who ‘get’ it, 82% recognize creativity as the most powerful tool in a marketer’s armory, while 28% acknowledge it is critical to business success.

    Those who treat creativity with the seriousness it deserves as a ‘business-critical’ factor were found to be 33% more likely to be growing – significantly ahead of the 25% figure among respondents coming from ‘maintaining,’ ‘recovering’ or ‘declining’ businesses.

    To turn the tide and boost creative performance, the WFA points out that great work is built on a strong brief, recommending that clients embrace discomfort to beat risk aversion and embrace training and mentoring. The industry body also calls for more clients to avoid overcomplicating the decision-making process and not to dismiss awards. 

    Stephan Loerke, chief executive officer of the WFA, said: “While the marketing role is increasingly complex and integrated with other functions, creativity is something within our control and an area where we should be demonstrating our contribution to business success. Taking a more creative route requires us to challenge our organization to feel more uncomfortable.”

    Produced in collaboration with Contagious and The Observatory International, the results were drawn from 640 client-side marketers working across 34 separate markets.

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