Does it matter if creativity is useful?

Super Bowl Sunday approaches.

What I do about that is remember to ask someone who will be playing, so I’m not completely blank when faced with a conversational reference in the following week. Lately, though, the after-game conversations will be as much about the remarkably creative commercials as about the game or contestants.

Is a buzz-worthy commercial worthy of being called creative even if the business results of the advertisement don’t turn out to be worth the expense?

What about the occasional as that’s memorable, but we can’t remember what was actually being advertised. Does that matter to the creative value of the ad itself?

Creativity is generally defined as something new (original) and useful (including aesthetic value), both of which criteria have subjective elements.

But how important is it that the creation is valued by anyone besides the creator?

How much does it matter if the most engaging and fresh Super Bowl ad this year is also highly effective at promoting the product or most closely aligned with the company’s marketing or communications strategies?

If it’s clever, fun, unique and popular, does an ad deserve to be considered the most creative of the bunch even if it could be shown that other ads were better aligned with company strategy and resulted in higher sales volumes or profits

A recent study of what makes for award-winning creativity in advertising suggested that originality was more important than business-appropriate strategy in predicting award-winning ad campaigns.

Is that fair?

Is it true or fair in your field?

Is originality the primary factor, or should it be, in literary prizes, art awards or scientific honors?

Originality is not negotiable in creative work, but either is it sufficient in most cases, advertising awards aside.

This can be a contentious issue for people who equate creativity mostly or completely with originality, and can lead to attention-seeking by means of outrageous uniqueness, and to disappointment and sometimes outrage when the creative work doesn’t reach the commercial or success the maker believes it deserves for the brilliant (?) originality of the work.

Sometimes a creative person will equate the requirement of usefulness with mercenary values that lead to “selling out” as an artist.

Ultimately the creative person will need to align their work with their own values and make their own peace with the resulting alignment or nonalignment with judges, critics and markets.

How much does it matter to your work that it is aligned with the criteria for usefulness in your field?

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