Why Do Creative Ideas Get Rejected?
Advertising creatives often hold different views of what constitutes original, appropriate work than external judges, according to a study published in the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).
Mark Kilgour (University of Waikato), Scott Koslow (Macquarie University) and Huw O’Connor (University of Waikato) discussed this topic in their paper, Why do great creative ideas get rejected? The effect of creative ideation processes on external judges’ assessments.
This study reported that advertising creative professionals “view their most creative work as being highly original and highly appropriate in nature”.
For creative professionals, it continued, “the more original they view their idea to be, the less appropriate external judges view that idea to be.
“Whereas an idea generator perceives his or her idea to be highly original and highly appropriate (i.e., creative), an external observer may find the appropriateness masked by the high level of originality, tending to view the idea as bizarre rather than creative.
“The fundamental issue for the creative professional therefore appears to be getting others to see the appropriateness of their creative ideas when those ideas have involved significant conceptual leaps.”
In reaching this insight, the analysis tested whether external judges agreed with industry insiders about what constitutes original, appropriate work.
A qualitative phase of the study aimed to identify the core elements of advertising creativity by interviewing 19 practitioners from two major US agency networks.
The main experiment saw different creatives, as well as account executives, design campaigns for an insecticide brand, with an approach intended to replicate the normal development process for a client.
Participants were given booklets in which to write down a list of ideas, select the best proposal from these suggestions, then further develop their chosen idea in a constrained time period.
Then, participants self-assessed their preferred work’s originality and appropriateness from a strategic perspective on a seven-point scale.
Four external judges – graduate students fitting the profile of the insecticide’s target market – did the same to see if their views aligned with those of industry professionals.
And the authors found that “evaluations of originality were more consistent across internal and external evaluations than those of appropriateness”.
“This result supports the contention that the originality of creative ideas is relatively easy to recognize and accept,” they added.
Greater divergence emerged because “idea generators tended to rate their own ideas as more appropriate than did external judges,” the scholars wrote.
One prospective reason is that the process behind creative ideation “led to the activation of internal connections that were difficult to communicate to external observers”, especially as this work often involves “leaps of insight” that outside observers may not immediately discern.
“The fundamental issue for the creative professional therefore appears to be getting others to see the appropriateness of their creative ideas when those ideas have involved significant conceptual leaps,” the study said.