6 Elements of an Effective Creative Platform

Sep 27, 2016

By Deb Roberts, in partnership with Millward Brown

Advertising is everywhere—so much so that we don’t even notice it, unless the ad does something really compelling to catch our attention. But as marketers know, that’s not enough. Advertising that catches our attention and entertains, even if we laugh out loud and tell our friends, may have done very little to move a brand forward. How many times have you heard someone say, “Remember that Super Bowl ad with the monkey with baby legs and a dog head? I don’t remember what brand it was for…”

The Ultimate Goal of Advertising

Really great advertising makes people think differently about a brand, ideally in a way that viewers are motivated to act—like pulling out their phones to buy it, feeling loyalty or new appreciation toward it, or even better, telling friends about how much they like the brand. Sometimes, these actions come so naturally, they don’t even realize that the advertising is influencing them.

What Does It Take to Crack the Code?

Effective advertising has to do a lot of things right. It starts with the power of one great insight with which the target consumer identifies in a real and meaningful way. That insight inspires creative. The organization’s crystal clear understanding of the insight is the foundation of all successful creative. The next step is to ensure that your message effectively addresses that insight in a clear and meaningful way. The best way to tell is to check in with consumers—they will tell you if you’ve hit the mark!

After you’re clear on the message, you’re ready to craft your creative platform. While your message is the compelling benefit you are trying to communicate to your target audience, your platform is the thematic means by which you will translate that message into advertising that will break through the clutter. Your creative platform is the unifying, overarching idea behind the creative content that you will disseminate, such as Nike’s platform of athletic empowerment, or Apple’s platform of innovative design. The following six elements from Millward Brown will put you in the right direction to develop creative executions that break through the clutter and influence your target.

Six Creative Platform Elements: Does Your Creative Stand Up to the Test?

A creative platform works hard for your brand when it…


Does the ad catch your target’s attention? Do they respond emotionally? The ad should compel them to stop what they’re doing and look/listen. Here’s where you’ll find out if the consumer insights you know resonate so well with your audience were successfully communicated by your brand, and isn’t coming off as just a thirty-second narrative with a logo at the end.

In research, watch out for phrases like “just not relevant to me” or “not sure what this is for.”

Is Credible

Do consumers believe that your brand can own this message? Consumers should be confident that the brand does what it says; they need to be able to trust that the brand can deliver the emotional benefit that was expressed in the ad. (And we know they crave it, because the foundational insight is validated!)

In research, watch out for disbelief in the benefit and in the connection between the benefit and the brand.

Is Distinctive

Does it feel fresh and new? With all the clutter, uniqueness is a critical precursor for memorability. The creative territory should stand out with a new, refreshing way to think about a message—even if it’s not a new one technically.

In research, watch out for phrases like “boring” or “could be for anything, or for any brand in the category.”


Does the ad inspire the desired impact? This is of course the big one. The impact may be feeling positive thoughts about the brand or inspiring a change in behavior, like purchase. Ensure that consumers are responding appropriately to the implicit call to action.

In research, listen for consumers to unaidedly call out the intended action. If seeking an impact on attitude, listen for phrases like “I love that [the brand] does X; I didn’t know that!”

Is Shareable

Does the ad inspire the viewer to share with friends? One really effective motivated action is sharing. In the social media environment, a compelling ad can contribute significantly toward the power of the ad, even with a small media spend. This doesn’t mean all ads need to be edgy: an instinctive emotional reaction that’s personal to target consumers can help drive a viral impact.

In research, listen for phrases like “I’d love to see that again,” “I would share this with my buds,” or “That’s the kind of ad I’d expect to see on YouTube.”

Is Generative

Is it expansive? Finally, consider the potential for breadth and longevity of the creative idea. Ideally, the platform can morph to different media types and/or geographies, last for several years, and continue to deliver the same compelling brand message.

In research, listen for phrases like “I can see how this would be really compelling for someone who participates in X sport.”

The consumer is your best asset to help ensure that the creative platform is on track, so that your final ad can have that intended powerful impact on consumer behavior.

Learn how GutCheck’s Persona Connector solution leverages a combination of survey and big data to bring actionability to persona development.

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