How much is creativity worth? How’s $40 million

I remember getting report cards all too well. There were always some surprises lurking in the teacher's perfectly handwritten verdict of my performance as a student. Something I didn't foresee. I always got good grades, so I wasn't one of those kids who had to worry about passing. I never tried to turn a D into a B. (Judging by my brother's experience, this never works anyway.) Typically the unexpected complaints revolved around being too chatty, or having been caught chewing gum.

I remember getting report cards all too well. There were always some surprises lurking in the teacher’s perfectly handwritten verdict of my performance as a student. Something I didn’t foresee. I always got good grades, so I wasn’t one of those kids who had to worry about passing. I never tried to turn a D into a B. (Judging by my brother’s experience, this never works anyway.) Typically the unexpected complaints revolved around being too chatty, or having been caught chewing gum.

Likewise, while most industry folk won’t be too thrown by the results of our annual Creative Report Card – after all, it is a tally of awards won by Canadian agencies, marketers and creatives in 2004 – I’m betting there are some startling revelations to be found in this Report, which starts on page 35.

Perhaps it’s the fact that some competing agencies, like Bensimon*Byrne, Palm Publicité and Target fell from the top 10 list, or that a former up-and-coming creative like copywriter Peter Ignazi, who came first in his category this year, has emerged as an undisputed talent.

What I personally find most encouraging is the number of marketers from normally staid, risk-averse categories that made a mark this time around. You sort of expect the likes of Labatt to be somewhere near the top. (Although the brewer did slip from number one in 2003 to number two currently, having been convincingly edged out by the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival.)

But the fact that they aren’t all party, beer-brand types, that there are such names as the BC Dairy Foundation, AGF Funds and Unilever Canada popping up in the top 10 list this year, suggests that there are marketers willing to go out on a limb in this country and do things differently. The question likely on your minds is whether or not their creativity matters. Surely, they are likely to break through the clutter if their advertising diverges from the norm, but does it impact their bottom line? Is it worth it?

One marketer who would say straying from your category peers is definitely worthwhile is Leslie Matheson, marketing director of the Richmond Centre in B.C. Matheson’s brand captured an impressive 24th on our creative report card ranking of clients. What makes it especially noteworthy is the fact that the Richmond Centre is a mall.

Not only did they refrain from the typical sexy, stick-figure model imagery in advertising, Matheson and her team have also laboured to improve the brand experience inside the shopping centre. And guess what? Since initiating these efforts, sales have risen from $383 to $521 per square foot, leading to a sales volume increase of over $40 million. You can read more of Matheson’s story in Who to Watch on page 17.

We hope it inspires you to take some bold steps. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be on our list next time.