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Communications Creativity Marketing

Stop wallowing in the sea of sameness

By Alistair Robertson, Creative Partner



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June 14, 2022 | 5 min read

Organizations in every business sector, but especially those in with complex environments, need to make bigger waves with their communications. Alistair Robertson, creative partner at Nucco, considers what marketers can do to improve their communication strategies.

Nucco on how and why brands need to reprioritise their comms.

Nucco on how and why brands need to reprioritize their comms

“We want cut-through!” “We need to look and act different!” “We must stand out!” Three sentences that every client I’ve worked with in the last 20 years has said to me. And yet, when I look at much of the creative communications, content and experiences delivered today, it doesn’t look like many hopes (never mind dreams) have been fulfilled.

Safety first has become first choice

At Nucco we call this abundance of average the ‘Sea of Sameness’ – organizations of every kind, professing a desire to be different, yet ultimately choosing an industry standard, safety-first approach.

In a recent winning pitch for a global financial client we shared the work of their competitors to make our point...


I don’t think I need to make further comment on that...

But in seriousness, I believe this is a problem. And a big one at that.

Better is not a ‘nice to have’

Not challenging the status quo damages our clients’ businesses’ ability to grow and our industry’s credibility. Marketing shouldn’t only be about being present – it should be about standing out, delivering results and providing value.

There is well-documented IPA and Gunn Report research to back this up. From Peter Field’s IPA research we can see there has been a collapse in creative effectiveness and efficiency, as brands reduce investment in long-term brand-building work in favor of short-term activation.

And this is reflected in both strategic decision-making and the media landscape too, which seems odd considering click-through rates on display networks and LinkedIn is about 0.3%, while paid social is considered effective at 1%.

However you look at it, brands are failing to achieve the cut-through they crave.

Expectations of creativity have changed

Concurrent to discussions around this topic, I’ve seen a lot of talk lately about why no one makes comedic work anymore, and other comments about how digital media has dumbed down the general standard of everyday communications.

Let’s face it – these ideas, as genius as they are, just don’t fit the media specs of today.

In recent digital campaigns there feels to be less creative brilliance of any kind. And certainly the shortening of our collective attention spans has prompted a more formulaic ‘just fill the media buy’ approach.

Creativity matters

We need to find a balance. Where creativity, effectiveness and efficiency meet – and leading organizations can stand out. Or to return to the ‘Sea of Sameness’ metaphor – ‘to make a splash’ and maybe even ‘blow the competition out the water.’

At Nucco, we deliver work for a multitude of organizations across the finance, technology, health, professional services and education sectors. These industries are not renowned for their creative legacy, but are equally deserving and often more in need of creative innovation.

Take this example of ‘boring’ corporate comms we created for global banking powerhouse JP Morgan.


Or this virtual reality (VR) experience for RNIB, helping them communicate the difficulty of living with sight loss.


Whether delivering digital content, or interactive augmented reality (AR) and VR experiences (even in the fledgling metaverse), we work to ensure our clients get the best creative answers to their most challenging questions – in the form of both executional excellence and ROI.

It feels old fashioned to say this, but creativity in our industry matters. Not just for its own sake, but for the benefit of our clients and ultimately our own businesses. So let’s all stop wallowing in the sea of sameness, and start making some waves.

Communications Creativity Marketing

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