Creative Ads Can Foster Thinking Outside the Box Although the Super Bowl is the preeminent annual sports event in the U.S., many viewers remember the creative commercials aired during the game as well as — if not better than — the game itself.

New research suggests innovative ads can stimulate consumers to break away from existing thought patterns. The study, found in the Journal of Consumer Research reports that the creative stimuli affects the way consumers process information about different products.

“Creative marketing stimuli are pervasive in the marketplace as marketers and advertisers scramble to break through the clutter to attract consumers’ attention and win their approval,” the authors wrote.

They found that exposure to creative messages, designs, or brand logos induced consumers to think more creatively, which in turn affected the way they processed unrelated ads.

They looked at the way consumers with a creative mindset are persuaded by advertising claims that operate at different levels — abstract vs. concrete.

For example, abstract ads for a tablet computer could focus on its convenience and elegance, whereas concrete ads could elaborate on features such as the touch capability or the GPS.

Generally, people who tend to think at an abstract level respond better to abstract claims, and vice versa. However, in their experiments, the authors discovered creative stimuli reversed the typical patterns – that is, abstract thinkers found concrete ad claims more appealing, and vice versa.

Researchers believe the finding may lead to a shift in marketing strategy.

“Though it still makes sense to target consumers segments with ad campaigns that tap into their way of thinking, marketers should be aware that this practice is most effective for consumers with a less creative mindset,” they said.

“To target those consumers with a creative mindset, marketers might actually augment their advertising effectiveness if their ad messages involve some kind of creative departure from the segment’s common way of thinking.”

Source: University of Chicago Press Journals