Marketing Execs Say Firms Play Too Safe with Creative Work

October 29, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Agency Business | Creative & Formats

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of marketing executives and 45% of ad execs think their firms don’t take enough creative risks when developing marketing and advertising projects, according to a study from staffing firm The Creative Group.

Among marketing executives, only 33% said they take the “right” amount of risks, and a mere 1% said they take too many risks. Nearly two-thirds believe their firm either doesn’t take enough risks or plays it much too safe when developing creative work for clients.


Ad executives are more satisfied with number of risks their firm takes. While 6% believe their firm takes too many risks, nearly half (48%) believe their firm is taking the right amount and slightly less (45%) think they either don’t take enough risks or play it too safe.


“Companies tend to become more risk-averse in an uncertain economy,” said Megan Slabinski, executive director of The Creative Group. “But when budgets are lean, it can be an opportune time for firms to try new or unproven promotional strategies and distinguish themselves from competitors.”

The Creative Group also said that strong communication skills and business knowledge are increasingly important attributes for today’s creative leaders. To ensure that firms are taking the appropriate amount of risk and providing the best, top-notch creative work for their clients, the firm suggests the following:

  • Take ego out of the equation. Before going to bat for an idea, carefully consider whether it’s a pet project that won’t have a significant impact on the business or an initiative that could genuinely move your company forward.
  • Get granular. Minor errors, such as a typo in a presentation or email, can quickly erode credibility. Double-check all information for accuracy before you present it.
  • Talk the talk. When pitching ideas, use the same terminology that your audience does and avoid creative jargon people might not understand.
  • Step into the client’s shoes. Similarly, try to view things from your audience’s perspective. Understanding the challenges decision makers face and the pressures they are under will help you present the most relevant information.
  • Give evidence. If possible, provide specific examples of firms that have achieved success using strategies similar to the one you’re presenting.

About the survey: The research is based on 250 telephone interviews, including 125 with advertising executives randomly selected from the nation’s 2,000 largest advertising agencies and 125 with senior marketing executives randomly selected from the nation’s 2,000 largest companies.


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