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The Creative Effectiveness Playbook

12 ingredients for creating advertising which drives profitable growth

What’s the secret formula for advertising success?

It’s an age-old question and one which often creates bitter division within the marketing community: what are the ingredients of effective advertising? While fads quickly come and go in the advertising world, what doesn’t change is the key pillars of success; and, after testing thousands upon thousands of ads down at Cubery HQ, we’ve consolidated these learnings into 12 factors for success.

Applying these learnings during the creative development process gives advertising the best chance of landing with the ultimate judge of creativity — the consumer. While some marketing practitioners have attempted to separate advertising’s role as a driver of short-term sales (‘activation’) and long-term brand building (‘fame’), our experience has shown that the very best advertising can and does deliver on both. Prioritizing one over the other is often a false dichotomy — and only leads to wastage.

Profitable brand growth results from Captivating, Connecting, and Compelling audiences, of which these learnings outline the levers marketers can pull to achieve this.

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Cubery - Creative Effectiveness - Characters



Develop stories which focus on a central protagonist people either love, or love to hate. Make them feel warm and relatable. Antagonists can help bring the audience onto your side.

Cubery - Creative Effectiveness - Music



The right soundtrack can alter the entire dynamic of an ad. Amplify emotion by lessening the reliance on product-focused voiceovers/dialogue.

Cubery - Creative Effectiveness - Storytelling



Tell a great story. Take people through twists and turns. Use negative emotions to enhance the impact of an eventual positive resolve. Think of advertising as sponsored entertainment.

Cubery - Creative Effectiveness - Universal human truths


Universal human truth

Build a story which leverages a tension founded on a human truth – love, acceptance, respect, gratitude, etc.

Cubery - Creative Effectiveness - Peak-end Rule



The way people feel at the ad’s emotional peak and end are the most important to its success. Amplify emotional intensity during these climaxes. Ensure stories are resolved and people are left feeling good.

Cubery - Creative Effectiveness - Emotion



Prioritize leaving an emotional impression over conveying product messages. Make people laugh or cry. Show how product benefits ladder up to emotional rewards. Memorability relies on making people feel something.

Cubery - Creative Effectiveness - Humor



When done well, humor is a highly effective mechanism for capturing attention. Making people laugh injects positive emotion very quickly, meaning it’s easily adaptable to shorter formats.

Cubery - Creative Effectiveness - Single-minded


Single Minded

Focus on conveying only one key message, impression, or idea. The more you try to communicate, the more take-out of everything will be diluted (and you’ll also risk causing confusion).

Cubery - Creative Effectiveness - Clarity



Ensure the narrative and message is understood. Give the brand a clear role — both within the story and in facilitating outcomes (i.e. conveying intended messaging).

Cubery - Creative Effectiveness - Brand Assets


Brand Assets

Leverage the brand’s distinctive assets (colors, characters, storylines, slogans, jingles, etc.) and redeploy them in fresh and topical ways over time.

Cubery - Creative Effectiveness - Consistency



Ensure the ad’s look and feel synergizes with the things people are typically familiar seeing for the brand – colors, sounds, animations, etc.

Cubery - Creative Effectiveness - Brand Hero


Brand Hero

In the absence of distinctive assets, use the brand to drive the narrative. Feature it during peak emotional moments and present it as the solution to the problem.