What is Creative Advertising?

22 May 2023

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Category: Industry insights

With today’s ad space oversaturated and fiercely competitive, how do brands cut above the noise and make audiences sit up and listen?

Advertising campaigns that harness the power of creativity have been proven to increase engagement and drive sales; research conducted by The Harvard Business Review showed that a euro invested in a highly creative ad campaign had, on average, nearly double the sales impact of a euro spent on a non-creative campaign.  

So, what is creative advertising and why is it so impactful? In this article, we talk to Kelly Macbeth Mackay, Senior Lecturer in Creative Advertising BA(Hons), on why creativity is the key.

What is creative advertising?

Creative advertising is a form of marketing that uses original concepts, designs, and storytelling to effectively communicate a message or promote a service or product.  

To create an advertising campaign, a team will look at the brand, understand how they communicate and who their target audience is. The team must then understand what the brand’s objectives are and design a creative campaign that sets out to achieve these goals. 

The objective of creative advertising is to make a brand stand out from its competitors, increase brand awareness and drive sales. Creative advertising requires strategic thinking as well as creative thinking and invites anyone who likes to challenge themselves to think differently.


Why is creativity important in advertising?

Creativity is the ability to produce or use original and unusual ideas. In the context of advertising, it allows brands to solve a problem, convey a message or promote a product in a new, refreshing way. 

Compared with other channels of marketing, creative advertising can gather momentum, reach new audiences and create a lasting impact. 

Creative advertising is effective for several reasons:

Attention grabbing

Creative advertising uses original and attention-grabbing techniques that are not commonly seen in traditional advertising. This helps to cut through the noise of competing messages and capture the attention of the target audience. For example, Channel 4’s Super. Human. film for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics captured the reality of a Paralympian in unparalleled accuracy. By removing the traditional patronising tone often used to describe anyone with a disability, the film tells real stories about real people that we, collectively, can relate to as humans.

Engages emotions 

Creative advertising often elicits an emotional response which in turn creates a memorable and impactful message. When audiences connect with the emotions evoked by an advertising campaign, they are more likely to remember the brand and acknowledge its call to action. 

Stand out from competitors 

Creative advertising helps brands to stand out from their competitors by using unique and innovative messaging and visuals. This can help to strengthen a brand’s distinct identity and boost brand loyalty amongst customers. 

Increases memorability 

An advertising campaign that utilises creativity is more likely to stick in the minds of audiences. This helps to build brand awareness and recall, which can drive sales. 

Generates buzz 

Creative advertising campaigns have the potential to go viral, which can lead to increased brand awareness and reach. This is particularly effective in today's digital age, where social media has the power to accelerate the reach and impact of ad campaigns.

What is an example of creative advertising in action?

Extinction Rebellion

From the perspective of eliciting an emotional response to a campaign’s call-to-action, Extinction Rebellion is a prime example of creative advertising in action. This organisation has a collective purpose of highlighting the climate emergency by creating and sharing impactful messages that resonate globally.  

Many people want to get involved in climate change activism but fear doing so on their own. Extinction Rebellion’s marketing strategy taps into this audience; their ad campaigns look to mobilise people en masse and portray their community as a collective of ordinary people from different backgrounds. 

Extinction Rebellion’s ‘We Need You’ campaign called on members of the public to join their climate protest ‘The Big One’ from 21-24 April outside the Houses of Parliament. In the campaign video, footage of past protests is juxtaposed with clips of political leaders, while a narrative voice-over talks directly to the viewer, encouraging them to join the climate protest. With every video, post or tweet, Extinction Rebellion is inviting the viewer to become part of the revolution and suggest that real change won’t happen without the help of the person watching.


Through a more commercial lens, the beer brand, UBREW’s ad campaign for their new low alcoholic beer ‘Responsibly’ gained a large reach even with a small budget.

Their initial problem was that the brand was unheard of, their session lager product was getting lost in a highly competitive market, and their marketing budget was small. The solution was to create an ad campaign around their product name – Responsibly - a word already used by beer brands in the industry message ‘drink responsibly’ and pretend that it was free endorsement. Genius. 

UBREW responsibly campaign

UBREW's' Responsibly' ad campaign produced by McCann World Group

What kind of jobs can you do with a degree in Creative Advertising?

A degree in Creative Advertising can lead to a range of job opportunities in the advertising, marketing, and media industries. Here are some potential job roles you could pursue: 


As a copywriter, you would be responsible for creating compelling and engaging written content for different marketing channels, including print, web, ads, email, and social media. 

Art Director 

Art directors are responsible for overseeing the visual style of advertising campaigns. They work closely with designers, photographers, and other creative professionals to create visually impactful ads and marketing materials. 

Creative Director 

A creative director’s role usually involves managing a creative team and overseeing the creative vision of large projects and campaigns. 

Account Manager 

Account managers work closely with clients to understand their needs and objectives, they then work with the creative team to develop and execute campaigns that meet the client brief. 

Media Planner 

Media planners are responsible for determining the best media platforms (TV, radio, print, digital) for advertising campaigns to reach the target audience. They work with clients and the creative team to develop effective media strategies. 

Social Media Manager 

Social media managers oversee a company’s social media accounts. They are responsible for developing social media strategies that engages followers and builds brand awareness. 

Marketing Manager 

Marketing managers look after the development and implementation of marketing campaigns that promote a business’ products and services. 

Brand Manager 

Brand managers are responsible for managing the overall brand identity and reputation of a company or product. They work closely with advertising and marketing teams to develop brand strategies and campaigns that are consistent, current, and impactful.

Kickstart your creative advertising career

Our undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Creative Advertising can help you take your first steps into the industry. Through workshops, crits and studio-based activities, our students learn to produce impactful and engaging advertising campaigns while having the opportunity to network with advertising agencies and industry partners. 

Explore our courses in Creative Advertising below.

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Bea Shakeshaft and Cameron Russell

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