Marketers from T-Mobile, Microsoft and Farmers Insurance sound off on the importance of creativity

As conversations around artificial intelligence , virtual reality, brand purpose and even brand safety continue to whirl in marketing circles, the very concept of “creativity” and how it can make or break a brand is often lost in the weeds.

Yet many brands owe much of their success to campaigns that are rooted in innovative, creative ideas. Take KFC for example, whose Colonel campaign created by Wieden + Kennedy has helped the chain attain 12 consecutive quarters of same-store sales growth. Or Honey Maid, whose groundbreaking 'This is Wholesome' campaign created by Droga5 helped catapult the graham cracker brand into a national conversation about what today’s families look like.

The Drum recently spoke with chief marketing officer of Farmers Insurance, Mike Linton, T-Mobile’s senior vice president of brand and advertising Peter DeLuca and Microsoft’s vice president of brand, advertising and research Kathleen Hall at the DPAA Video Everywhere Conference to find out why they think creativity is important for marketers. All three marketers have recently launched work that has managed to break through and resonate with consumers in today’s cluttered environment.

Farmers Insurance has seen success over the past few years from its ‘We Know From Experience’ campaign, which is based on real life – yet truly bizarre – claims it has received from customers over the years. Created by RPA, the spots feature outrageous scenarios as they unfold: in one, a dog accidentally turns his owners’ kitchen sink faucet on and floods the entire house. In another, a man crashes his car when his son’s escaped gerbil climbs up his pants. While exaggerated for comedic effect, the spots use humor to convey that Farmers Insurance’s 89-year history gives it the expertise needed to help with even the most outlandish situations.

In the competitive mobile carrier landscape, T-Mobile has also used humor to cut through in its recent advertising efforts, albeit with a little bit of star power to take things up a notch. For this year’s Super Bowl, T-Mobile pulled out all the creative stops to wow viewers during the big game. With three minutes of ad time, T-Mobile aired four different spots that starred celebrities including Martha Stewart, Snoop Dogg, Justin Bieber and comedian Kristen Schaal to promote its unlimited data plan. The two ads starring Schaal, both of which parodied ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ featured the hot and bothered comedian asking a Verizon rep if she’ll be “punished” for going over her data limit.

Microsoft has sought to champion diversity and inclusion in many of its ads, with a particular focus on encouraging more girls to go into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. The company’s ‘Make What’s Next’ campaign, which was unveiled on International’s Women’s Day last year, encourages girls to “stay in STEM” despite the fact that only 6.7% of women graduate with STEM degrees. The company’s 2016 holiday ad aimed to wrap up a politically divisive year with an uplifting, inspiring ad that showed people from all walks of life coming together to create a giant mural – with the help of Microsoft products, of course.

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