Opinion: Perspective - Creativity and effectiveness are perfect partners

There's a line in our piece this week about Kesselskramer that will probably send a shiver up the backbone of the IPA (page 8). Apparently, its work is "all about art and ideas".

As we all know, advertising is now supposed to be a business tool rooted deeply in its contribution to businesses' bottom lines by growing their intangible assets (brands).

I suspect there are plenty of agency managers who don't really understand what ROI actually, practically means. But it's acutely obvious that for agencies to even begin to have a claim as business partners to their clients, underlining the long-term value of their work is essential.

So calling it "art" is intensely dangerous, bringing to mind swathes of effete creatives, less interested in selling stuff than in parading their artistic genius.

Yet, yet. Yet there is something undoubtedly exciting and intriguing about Kesselskramer's ambitions. It won't just do advertising. The agency will also be a shop selling its own products, a gallery displaying its own work and that of external artists, a living source of inspiration. And Kesselskramer is, actually, smart enough to recognise that "art" is a perilous positioning; it doesn't enter creative awards, only the Effies effectiveness awards.

But why the tension between creativity and effectiveness? Why should considering advertising and art close bedfellows seem such a crime? Thankfully, at an extremely sweaty and over-crowded DDB "Cannes comes to London" party this week, Donald Gunn had some good news: creativity and effectiveness are cause and effect, perfect partners that are key to adland's long-term survival.

Apparently, Gunn has worked out that ads with award-winning qualities are two-and-a-half-times more likely to be associated with market success than ads on average. A curious mixture of intangibles and specifics, the statistic sounds a little too pat. But Gunn reckons he has plenty of evidence to back it up.

Take Fallon's double gold Lion-winning "balls" ad; Sony Bravias sold out just three weeks after the ad broke. Gunn has a bagful of similar examples. And as Bob Scarpelli wasted no time pointing out to the party throng on Tuesday night, DDB is a living example of an agency that scores high on both the creative and effectiveness barometers; surely no coincidence?

But as you explore the relationship between creativity and effectiveness, it becomes increasingly obvious that there is an urgent need to harden up the industry's case. If the IPA is to drive home its message that advertising builds businesses and bottom lines we need more rigorous evidence of the way creativity informs brand performance.

With Cannes imminent and agencies keen to win clients over to the view that creative standards are key to business success, it seems an appropriate time to raise the issue. See next week's Campaign for an analysis of Gunn's case, and for a full guide to surviving the Festival. As we prepare for the year's best creative fest, let's not lose sight of the need to ram home the relationship between great work and great sales figures.

With digital now firmly centre stage, digital agencies are well braced for a talent drain to traditional creative agencies. But so far, there's little evidence of above-the-line creatives clamouring for jobs in digital agencies.

When it comes to the media side of things, though, it seems like much more of a two-way street. This week's news that Unilever's global media chief, Alan Rutherford, is taking over as the global chief executive of Digitas is simply the latest, and most high-profile, example of the transfer of talent (though quite how great Rutherford's talent is remains an open question).

It's clear evidence of the fact that media thinking - online, offline, through the line - is more easily adaptable to the changes imposed by the digital era. Expect to see more examples of senior media people taking up the digital flag.