The Development of a Measure to Assess Viewers' Judgments of the Creativity of an Advertisement: a Preliminary Study

ABSTRACT - Advertising professionals have traditionally placed a high value on creativity, yet recently some have begun to question the importance of creativity in advertising. This paper attempts to lay the foundations for the systematic evaluation of viewers' reaction to creative and less creative ads, by developing and testing a measure of viewers' judgments of the creativity of an advertisement. Our exploratory study shows this measure has good psychometric properties and the ability to classify ads a priori as more or less creative. Consequently, we feel that our measure could allow researchers to investigate responses to ads that differ in their level of creativity, and study the factors that contribute to the production of creative ads.


Gabriele S. Haberland and Peter A. Dacin (1992) ,"The Development of a Measure to Assess Viewers' Judgments of the Creativity of an Advertisement: a Preliminary Study", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 19, eds. John F. Sherry, Jr. and Brian Sternthal, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 817-825.

Advances in Consumer Research Volume 19, 1992      Pages 817-825


Gabriele S. Haberland, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Peter A. Dacin, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Advertising professionals have traditionally placed a high value on creativity, yet recently some have begun to question the importance of creativity in advertising. This paper attempts to lay the foundations for the systematic evaluation of viewers' reaction to creative and less creative ads, by developing and testing a measure of viewers' judgments of the creativity of an advertisement. Our exploratory study shows this measure has good psychometric properties and the ability to classify ads a priori as more or less creative. Consequently, we feel that our measure could allow researchers to investigate responses to ads that differ in their level of creativity, and study the factors that contribute to the production of creative ads.


For many advertising professionals creativity is the lifeblood of their profession. Advertising agencies have "creative departments," the advertising profession has coveted awards for creative advertising, and the advertising literature has traditionally stressed that good campaigns need to be creative (Bernstein 1974, Whittier 1955). Yet there are also critics who allege that the emphasis on advertising creativity is contributing to the demise of advertising. Trout and Ries (1989) argue for dethroning the "God of Creativity" to make way for more emphasis on positioning as the objective of good advertising, and other experts advocate emphasis on product benefits, not creativity, as hallmark of successful advertising campaigns (Hinderyckx 1991).

However, no reliable measure of advertising creativity exists and thus conjecture plagues the debate over the importance of advertising creativity. Currently advertising creativity is typically assessed by agreement among advertising professionals or brand managers. Furthermore, this assessment often occurs after the airing of a campaign when its success or lack thereof is known. As a result, the arguments of creativity advocates that campaigns which win creativity awards are by and large also highly successful (Fallon 1989, Kagan 1989) are weak, since creativity judgments are often not entirely independent of knowledge about success. More importantly, whether viewers also consider these advertisements to be creative never enters into these judgments. It is our belief, however, that in order to investigate the relationship between creativity and advertising effectiveness the viewer's judgments of creativity must be taken into account. Therefore, a measurement of advertising creativity from the viewer's perspective is necessary.

The focus on awards in the advertising industry also implies that an object is either creative or not. While this may be a useful perspective for award granting, we believe that it is more likely that advertisements vary in degree of creativity. Current measures do not capture this continuum. Creativity adversaries often argue that not all effective ads win awards for creativity, yet this does not mean that effective ads are not creative. For example, Trout and Ries (1989) point to advertisements which, while highly successful in stimulating sales, received no creative acclaim. However, these ads may still be very creative, although not sufficiently creative to win awards.

Given that many of these problems stem from our inability to reliably and validly assess the creativity of advertisements, our objectives are two fold. First we want to address the problem of identifying creativity by developing a definition of creativity in advertising based on the literature on creativity. Second we want to undertake a preliminary operationalization of this definition resulting in a valid and reliable measure of creativity that reflects its underlying dimensions.

To this end, we begin with a review of the relevant literature in psychology and advertising, assessing existing perspectives on creativity. Then, we integrate these perspectives into a multi-dimensional definition of creativity that serves as a useful basis for identifying creative advertisements. Next, we undertake an initial assessment of reliability and validity of the measure and, finally, we report our findings.


Developing a measure of creativity requires a definition of the construct and specification of its domain (Churchill 1979). To do this, we begin with a review of extant approaches to creativity focusing on both the definitions and measures that have been used.

A noted feature of research on creativity is that there is a long history of disagreement about the preferred approach to understanding the construct (Amabile 1983). Three approaches are found in the literature. These are: (1) identifying traits of creative people, (2) identifying the processes necessary to bring about creativity and, to a much smaller degree (3) identifying characteristics of creative outcomes. We feel that none of these approaches alone is adequate to understand creativity. Rather, we believe that it is necessary to draw from all three approaches. To do this, we review the definitions of creativity in each of the three perspectives.

Barron (1955) represents an early approach to creativity. His focus was on identifying the personality traits that lead to creative responses among individuals. He categorized the responses of individuals to various problems as either creative or uncreative and then compared the personality traits of the two groups, noting any differences. The definition of creativity used by Baron to categorize responses consisted of two componentsCoriginality and adaptiveness to reality. Originality refered to an "uncommonness" of a response in relation to responses of others. Adaptiveness to reality, occured when an individual provides an objectively correct solution to a problem which permits such assessment, or when an individual provides an appropriate response based on consensus among experts. Mac Kinnon (1962) later added a third componentCa creative output needs to be developed and elaborated, it has to be more than a one time original insight.

The second approach to creativity appears in a series of studies that attempt to identify stages of the creative process, and the factors that set this process apart from other processes (e.g., Newell, Shaw and Simon 1962). In this approach the definition of creativity is a special type of problem solving behavior that applies to situations that are complex and require novelty (i.e., could not be expected from previous information) and unconventionality (i.e., modification or rejection of previous solutions), and is characterized by the use of heuristics rather than algorithmic approaches. Therefore, according to this definition, creativity is not relevant in all facets of life.

Bruner (1962), takes a somewhat different view of creativity from the previous ones in that, to him, creativity is not a characteristic of an output or a process, but rather the reaction produced in the receiver of the output. He defines creativity as "an act that produces effective surprise." Bruner argues that one important aspect of surprise is unexpectedness that produces wonder or astonishment. Unexpectedness, in contrast to novelty and originality, is dependent on the situation and does not have to be rare, infrequent or bizarre. In addition, he argues that a second important aspect of effective surprise, is the "quality of obviousness." Creativity should produce a "shock of recognition, following which there is no longer astonishment"Cthe unexpected has to matter to be meaningful.

These approaches to creativity tend to incorporate definitions that focus on only one or two dimensions. However, authors who follow the third approach, attempting to identify characteristics of creative outcomes, use multi-dimensional conceptualizations of the construct. For example, in their definition Jackson and Messick (1965) identify four underlying dimensions: unusualness, appropriateness, transformation and condensation. Unusualness or novelty refers to uniqueness or infrequency against a norm. Appropriateness can be either external (referring to the degree to which a product fits the demands of the situation), or internal (the degree to which an output is consistent in its parts). Thus, appropriateness requires an evaluation of fit in the context for which the output was developed. These two dimensions are common to most conceptualizations of creativity.

Jackson and Messick's two other dimensions, however, are more abstract, harder to grasp, and rarely appear in other definitions of creativity. Transformation denotes the degree to which an output has the potential to force someone to view reality in a new way. It must be judged relative to the strength and nature of the constraints that are transcended. Condensation refers to the degree, to which a product achieves simplicity and summarizes the essence of a situation. A condensed outcome conveys a lot of meaning, provides a richness of interpretation and is appropriate for many aspects or situations.

Similar to Bruner, Jackson and Messick hypothesize that each of these dimensions evokes a different response in the listener or viewer of creative output. Unusualness evokes surprise, which is highest upon exposure and diminishes as the listener or viewer assimilates the object or event into their experience. Appropriateness leads to satisfactionCa recognition that the output is complete or sufficient. The presence of transformation stimulates the listener or viewer to alter their conventional way of perceiving or thinking about the world. Condensation leads the listener or viewer to deliberately, carefully and repeatedly examine the output.

Despite the existance of multi-dimensional conceptualizations of creativity, many researchers continue to operationalize the construct as a broad overall judgment by simply asking individuals whether they think something is creative (e.g., Amabile 1983). While these measures sometimes show high inter-rater reliability, they add little to our understanding of the construct. We believe that these broad judgments can not capture all the dimensions of the construct. The high reliabilities may simply reflect respondents making creativity judgements based only on the originality or novelty dimension. Consequently, individuals who adopt this perspective for producing creative output will find themselves working on a hit or miss basis. This is especially true for advertisers who, when attempting to produce creative campaigns, would benefit from an understanding of how all the underlying dimensions of creativity contribute to the effectiveness of an advertisement. Furthermore, since advertising effectiveness depends on viewers' judgments, a measurement of advertising creativity from the viewer's perspective is necessary.


Just as a poem, painting or theory is an output that can be judged on creativity, these judgments can also be made about advertisements. Thus, specifying an advertisement to be a creative outcome allows us to use the previous literature base to develop a multi-dimensional definition and measure of creativity in advertising.

Based on our previous literature review, we conceptualize the creativity of an advertisement as the extent to which it is: (l) original and unexpected (2) appropriate and meaningful in an advertising context (3) requires the viewer/listener to (re)formulate or modify their attitude towards an advertised product or service and (4) is condensed, that is, it is simple, yet conveys a lot of meaning and offers a richness of interpretation.

Similar to Bruner (1962), and Jackson and Messick (1965) we also assume that a creative ad evokes several responses in the viewer. Specifically: unexpectedness leads to surprise: appropriateness and meaningfulness lead to a satisfaction with the message; reformulation leads to examination of the previous way of thinking about a product or a product class; and condensation leads to deeper thinking about the ad and to the formation of associations based on ad content.

Furthermore, this approach leads us to believe that it is possible to measure the creativity of an output at two levels. The first level involves a judgment of how unusual, appropriate and condensed an output is and to what degree it embodies transformations. The second level assesses the presence of a corresponding affective response in the listener or viewer. Therefore, we believe that it is possible to operationalize all dimensions of creativity at two levels: (1) the cognitive or evaluative level, which calls for direct assessment of the presence of the criteria (i.e., by asking a subject for their judgment of the originality of an advertisement) and (2) the affective level which calls for an assessment of a subject's affective reactions (e.g., surprise) upon seeing the ad.

The first dimension is common to most existing definitions of creativity. While this is generally assessed against a norm established by the researcher (e.g., infrequency relative to a sample or population), this notion is irrelevant in the advertising context. Rather, we believe that each viewer, based on their lifetime experience with advertising, has certain expectations for advertisements. To the degree that an advertisement deviates from this expectation, the viewer is more likely to call an ad original or novel. However, as we previously argued, originality alone does not constitute creativity.

The second dimension, appropriateness/ meaningfulness, is also important. In an advertising context, this definition implies that although a viewer may judge an ad to be unexpected, original, or "out of the ordinary," the advertisement is not necessarily creative unless it also conveys some meaning about the advertised product.

The third dimension, reformulation, is based on the existing dimensions of transformation (Jackson and Messick 1965), and unconventionality (Newell, Shaw, and Simon 1962). It represents the necessity of the viewer/listener to (re)formulate or modify their attitude towards an advertised product or service. In an advertising context, this dimension is difficult to isolate. It requires not just the form of an ad to be novel, but also its content. It also requires that the information provided is meaningful and provides some new or contrasting information the consumer did not know or did not consider.

The fourth dimensionCcondensationCis one previously proposed by Jackson and Messick (1965) only. However, it is relevant for an advertising context in which advertisers generally strive for a simple message that is rich in the information conveyed.


In developing the measure, we first generated a set of items based on the four dimensions of our definition. We used several sources to generate these items including the literature reviewed above, textbooks and, journal articles in advertising which often contained colorful statements by advertising practitioners. From the large pool of items that initially resulted, we selected 10 - 12 items for each dimension that in our view best captured the dimension.

Next, we developed an initial questionnaire. We operationalized items as either Likert or Semantic Differential scale items in order to allow for variety in an otherwise lengthy questionnaire. We worded some scale items positively and some negatively to prevent subjects from rapidly marking the same box for all items. Furthermore, items were randomly ordered to mix dimensions. We then pretested this questionnaire for understanding and made some minor changes as a result. The resulting items for each dimension appear in Table 1.

In order to asses the validity of the measure with a multitrait-multimethod (MTMM) approach (Campbell and Fiske 1959), we needed a second measure of creativity, using a maximally different method to assess the construct. In practice, however, the use of very different methods is difficult. For example, in this study, since all measures needed to be collected by means of a questionnaire both our measure and the alternative measure of creativity were self-report measures, thus, limiting the difference between methods. To introduce some difference, however, we decided that our alternative measure would ask subjects to directly judge the creativity of the ad on a 10 point scale. This seemed sufficiently different from our indirect "dimensional" approach, in which the word creative was never explicitly mentioned. The direct judgment also corresponds to the widely used practice of assessing creativity by independently asking experts for their judgment without providing them with explicit criteria to use.

Use of the MTMM approach also requires the measurement of at least one other construct, which should be independent from creativity, but assessed using similar methods. We decided on two constructsChow humorous the advertisement was, and attitude towards the advertised brand.

We measured humor in two ways. The first measure consisted of two Likert (the advertising makes you smile, the advertising is amusing) and two Semantic Differential Scale Items (dry/entertaining, funny/serious). The second measure consisted of a 10 point scale asking respondents to judge how humorous the ad was. We recognize that the choice of humor does not meet the ideal criteria for the MTMM, since humor and creativity of an ad are not completely unrelated, very creative ads are often also amusing. However the reverse need not be the case.

We also chose to measure attitude towards the brand because it is a construct for which generally accepted measures exist in the literature. Several researchers have used the same four item Semantic Differential Scale (good/bad, poor quality/high quality, unpleasant/pleasant and like very much/dislike very much) to assess respondents' attitudes towards the advertised brand. The reported reliabilities (coefficient alpha) are generally high, 0.88 Mitchell and Olson (1981), 0.91 Edell and Staelin (1983), 0.92 Mitchell (1986). Again, brand attitude is not entirely independent of creativity, since a creative ad may induce people to view a product more favorably. However, attitude has many determinants besides exposure to one advertisement (e.g., product experience).



Since it is more difficult to distinguish among related than unrelated constructs, one advantage of using two constructs related but conceptually independent from creativity is that this allows for a stricter test of construct validity. We pretested the questionnaire with the measures of creativity, humor and brand attitudes. No changes were necessary.


We collected data in the main lobby of a student union at a large Midwestern university. Most respondents were students. Respondents were recruited at random and asked to watch a TV commercial on a video monitor and then fill out a questionnaire about this commercial. In all, we used 38 different TV commercials, recorded either from network broadcasts or agency tapes. We selected ads that we believed reflected a wide spectrum of creativity, ranging from "slide type" ads for a special sale at a local store to a national beer campaign that won a CLIO award. Respondents watched one commercial and then filled out the questionnaire.

We needed a minimum of 100 subjects since an item analysis requires 5 to 10 times as many subjects as items (Peter 1979). In total, 102 subjects completed the study.

Our data analysis had three objectives. First, it would assess the reliability of our measure. Second, it would suggest how to purify the measure through deletion of items with poor psychometric properties. Third, it would also provide a preliminary assessment of the validity of the proposed measure.

Assessing Reliability and Purifying the Measure:

As a first step, we calculated reliabilities for each of the four dimensions. This resulted in the following coefficient alphas: 0.91 for originality, 0.80 for meaningfulness, 0.79 for reformulation, and 0.69 for condensation. The overall reliability of the measure was 0.93 based on a formula for the reliability of a linear combination of measures (Nunnally 1978). This is somewhat higher than any of the dimensional measures, since the overall measure is also longer than any dimensional measure and errors are more likely to cancel each other.

From a practical standpoint, however, a 42 item measure of a construct is long and cumbersome. The length of this questionnaire could be detrimental to the purpose of any future study of creativity. Faced with many questions about one short advertisement, subjects may try to make consistent statements about the ad rather than actually evaluate it. We, therefore, decided to attempt to purify the measure and shorten it without sacrificing its reliability.

A plot of the correlation of items with their corresponding total dimension scores did not reveal any large gaps that indicate cut-off points beyond which we could eliminate items. Consequently, the choice of how many items to eliminate would be somewhat arbitrary. Since the reliability of the overall measure was very high, we felt that we could eliminate several of the least reliable items and maintain a high degree of reliability. Therefore, we decided to halve the number of items, retaining five items per dimension. One reason for this was that the equal number of items would allow for an equal influence (i.e., equal weight) of each dimension on the total score.

Elimination of items based strictly on statistical analysis (i.e., low reliabilities), however, may be inappropriate. There is a danger that this could alter the domain of the construct being sampled. For example, this might result in the elimination of items that capture any different aspects of a dimension, and thus a scale of items that are identical to one another except for minor differences in wording. To ascertain whether this bias was present we carefully examined each item before deciding on its elimination.

The biggest difference in each dimension was among items designed to assess respondents' cognitive evaluation and those designed to assess their affective reaction. For example in the case of the originality dimension, respondents evaluated whether the ad was unique (cognitive evaluation) and whether it had made them surprised or astonished (affective reaction). Therefore, we wanted to maintain both cognitive and affective items for each dimension. Fortunately, the items that remained after we eliminated other items on a statistical basis allowed for this.

In several cases an inspection of the items made it clear why they had fared relatively poorly in the statistical analysis. For example, one item "familiar/unfamiliar", appeared to be ambiguous since some subjects seemed to interpret it to refer to uniqueness (originality) while others used it to indicate that they had seen the ad had previously. In other cases the wording of items seemed to be too strong to be meaningful in the advertising context (e.g., "the ad that knocks your socks off"). Consequently, we felt comfortable eliminating those items suggested by the statistical analysis.

The purified 20-item measure had a reliability of 0.94, with the following coefficient alphas for the four dimensions: 0.90 originality, 0.81 meaningfulness, 0.80 reformulation and 0.74 for condensation. No deterioration of reliabilities occurred despite the extensive shortening of the measure.

After purification, we factor analyzed the data using principal components as suggested by Churchill (1979). Factor analysis was appropriate because the three criteria of appropriateness for its use as listed by Stewart (1981) were met. First, the correlation matrix showed that the correlations among most variables were at least moderately high. Second, the plot of eigenvalues of the correlation matrix did have two breaks after the first and the fourth eigen value. Third, all communality estimates (four-factor solution) were at least moderately high (at least above 0.49). The results, therefore, met all of Stewart's criteria.

In deciding how many factors adequately captured the covariation in the data, we used the roots criterion. This calls for the extraction of all factors with eigenvalues larger than 1. In the present case, this resulted in a four-factor solution supporting our a priori hypothesis of four underlying dimensions. We then rotated this solution to facilitate interpretation of the factor loadings. We performed varimax, quartimax and equamax rotations and compared their solutions. All three techniques led to similar conclusions. Consequently, for the sake of efficiency we base the following discussion on the varimax rotation only. The result of this analysis is shown in Table 2.



Table 2 suggests that the four factors obtained in the analysis corresponded to our a priori hypothesized dimensions. Five items had high loadings on the first factor and all five belonged to the dimension originality. Therefore, factor 1 represented originality. On each of the other factors, we found at least four items to load much higher than the remaining items. Again, in each case these four items corresponded to our a priori specified dimensions. All four items for factor 2 belonged to meaningfulness, all four items for factor 3 belonged to condensation, all four items for factor 4 belonged to reformulation. The factors therefore represented these dimensions well.

Among the remaining items, items 10 and 35 correlated higher with originality than with their intended dimension and item 14 correlated moderately with several dimensions. After considerable discussion, we decided to eliminate these items.

While most of the remaining items loaded highly only on one factor, three items did not perform well in the rotation. Items 41 and 27 loaded highly on both the dimensions they were intended to measure as well as originality, and item 17 loaded high on both reformulation and meaningfulness. We felt that one reason for this was that these items assess a more affective reaction to the ad and, therefore, unlike the more cognitive based items, tended to be related to more than one dimension. However, since all three items are theoretically important aspects of our construct and would lead to an underrepresentation of an affective component if we eliminated them, we retained these items in our measure.

The purified 16 item measure had an overall reliability of 0.92 with the following coefficient alpha's for each dimension: 0.87 for originality, 0.77 for meaningfulness, 0.77 for reformulation, and 0.66 for condensation. Since this is a preliminary attempt at developing this measure, one must keep in mind that these reliability figures are at this point no more than first estimates. Reliability can only be established over several different samples and occasions. Any one occasion contains too much measurement artifact to warrant a final conclusion. In this study the problem is even more severe, since we have significantly shortened the questionnaire items can now be said to appear in a different context. This may affect reliability scores.



Assessing the Validity of the Measure:

We assessed two aspects of construct validity: convergent validity and discriminant validity. Since no established theories exist with respect to creativity in advertising, we could not assess nomological validity.

We based our assessment of convergent and discriminant validity on the multitrait-multimethod matrix method (Campbell and Fiske 1959). The matrix, shown in Table 3, consists of the intercorrelations among each of several traits measured by each of several methods.

Evidence of the convergent validity occurs in the entries in the validity diagonal which represent the correlations between different measures of the same trait. The entries of 0.794 for the creativity measures, 0.652 for the attitude measures and 0.778 for the humor measures are fairly high and indicate that for each construct the two different methods seem to measure the same thing. This suggests the presence of convergent validity for the measures of each construct.

A closer analysis shows a very high correlation (0.862) between the score for the originality dimension and the single-item alternative measure of creativity. Furthermore, this correlation is higher than all other correlations between dimension scores and the one-item measure, as well as between the one-item measure and the overall multi-item measure (0.794). This suggests, as we previously suspected, that when subjects are asked to directly judge the creativity of an ad, they rely more heavily on originality than any other of the hypothesized dimensions. To the extent that the other dimensions are equally important aspects of creativity, the multi-item measure is then a more valid measure of the construct.

We assessed discriminant validity using the three criteria suggested by Campbell and Fiske (1959). First, we examined whether the entries in the validity diagonal were higher than the correlations that lay in the same column and row of the heterotrait-heteromethod triangles. This is necessary to demonstrate that the two creativity measures have more in common with one another than with other measures which neither assess the same trait, nor use the same method. Our data met this requirement even though the heterotrait-heteromethod triangle correlations were fairly high. These high correlations suggested that creativity, humor and attitude toward the ad may not be as independent as ideally desired for use of the MTMM matrix. This is particularly true of the measure of humor.

Second, we investigated whether the validity coefficients (entries in the validity diagonal) were higher than the correlations in the heterotrait-monomethod triangles. This would indicate that alternative measures of the same construct are more closely related with each other than with measures of other constructs employing a similar method (scale). Again our data met this criterion even though correlations between creativity and other constructs are high.

Third, we examined whether the same pattern of correlations existed in the heterotrait- monomethod and heterotrait-heteromethod triangles. This would tell us whether creativity measured by either method has the same relation to other constructs. In general the data meet this criterion. When we ranked the correlations in each triangle by size, the correlations between creativity and humor were always the largest. The second largest correlations generally occurred between creativity and brand attitude, with one exception. In the upper right heterotrait- heteromethod triangle, the correlation between humor and brand attitude was slightly higher than the correlation between creativity and brand attitude.


Developing a definition of an abstract construct such as creativity, is an important contribution to the debate among advertising professionals about the importance of developing advertisements that are creative (e.g. Trout and Ries 1989, Beaver 1989). As in many controversies, a part of the differences in opinion may be attributable to a different understanding of the focal concept. Indeed one of the proponents of creativity (Beaver 1989) has suggested that the problem is not creativity per se, but the narrow view of creativity held by some professionals who consider only the executional elements of an ad as creative, rather than evaluating the advertisement holistically.

To move this debate from the realm of polemics to scientific investigation, it is necessary to develop a clear understanding and a valid measurement of the creativity of an advertisement. The definition developed for this study, identifies dimensions that we believe are necessary to evaluate creativity. Consequently, our approach may provide additional guidance to advertisers who strive to develop creative ads.

Based on this definition we developed a measure of the creativity of an advertisement that allows us to tap creativity assessments of more than one constituent group. We feel that much of the controversy around the importance of creativity of advertisements may stem from differences in perspectives employed. While creativity is currently measured by advertising professionals or brand managers, our measure focuses on viewers' judgments of the creativity of advertisements. Assessments by advertising professionals may often be overly focused on the novelty of executional elements, for which they see themselves as responsible. Since a viewer's reaction to creative ads is at the heart of the debate among professionals, it seems that the viewer's judgments of creativity should be the most relevant assessment of advertising creativity. As such, our measure may be helpful for identifying whether viewers will also judge a campaign to be creative.

Data we collected showed our measure to be both reliable and valid. Furthermore, we were able to retain good psychometric properties for the measure even with a substantially shortened version. While the long form of the measure may be useful for theoretical/academic based research, we feel that at a practical level, the short form of the measure would be easier to administer and would be just as applicable in the selection of advertising campaigns.

Our analysis also showed that our measure may be a more valid way of assessing creativity than directly asking viewers to judge creativity. Direct single-item measures of creativity appear to rely mostly on one dimension of creativity: originality/novelty. In our view originality and creativity are not synonymous. As the literature and our analysis demonstrated, originality is only one aspect of creativity, albeit an important one, and our multi-dimensional measure seemed to capture a number of other relevant aspects of creativity.

While our study provided some good initial results, additional studies are required to confirm the measure's psychometric properties. For example, our conclusions are limited since all our measures of constructs employed paper and pencil methods, rather than highly different methods such as ideally required by the MTMM approach. Furthermore, we based our selection of items for the shortened measure on data from only one sample of respondent. Consequently, it is important to investigate whether these findings replicate across other samples.

In sum, the ability to measure advertising creativity is important since it enables advertisers to investigate viewer's reactions (e.g. memory, attitude towards ad, brand, and purchase) to ads which differ in their level of creativity. In turn, this allows for an assessment of the importance of creativity in advertising campaigns. For too long creativity has been seen as a concept that everybody intuitively understands, yet one which defies clear definition. We attempted to shed some light on the construct by undertaking a preliminary step toward developing a definition and measure of the creativity of an advertisement. We hope this will encourage others to follow.


Amabile, Teresa M. (1983), The Social Psychology of Creativity, New York: Springer Verlag.

Barron, Frank (1955)," The Disposition towards Originality," Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 51, 478-485.

Beaver, Allan (1989), "Advertising demise greatly exaggerated,"Advertising Age, 60 (August 7) 20,32.

Bernstein, David (1974), Creative Advertising, London: Longman Group Ltd.

Bruner, Jerome S. (1962), " The Conditions of Creativity," in Contemporary Approaches to Creative Thinking, ed.Howard E. Gruber, Glenn Terrell and Michael Wertheimer, New York: Atherton Press.

Campbell, Donald T. and Donald W. Fiske (1959), " Convergent and Discriminant Validation by the Multitrait-Multimethod Matrix," Psychological Bulletin, 56 , 81-105.

Churchill, Gilbert A. (1979), " A Paradigm for Developing Better Measures of Marketing Constructs," Journal of Marketing Research, 16 (February), 64-73.

Edell, Julie A. and Richard Staelin (1983), " The Information Processing of Pictures in Print Advertisements," Journal of Consumer Research, 10 (June), 45-61.

Fallon, Pat (1989), " Why pit positioning against creativity?" Advertising Age, 60 (August 7) 20,32.

Hinderyckx, Greg (1991), "Experts clash over role of creativity," Marketing News, 25 (8, April 15, 1991), p.8.

Jackson, Phillip W. and Samuel Messick (1965), " The person, the product and the response: conceptual problems in the assessment of creativity," Journal of Personality, 33, 309-329.

Kagan, David S. (1989), " Trout and Ries bite the hand that feeds," Advertising Age, 60 ( August 7) 20,32.

MacKinnon, Donald (1962), "The Nature and Nurture of Creative Talent," American Psychologist, 17,484-95.

Mitchell, Andrew A. and Jerry C. Olson (1981), "Are Product Attribute Beliefs the Only Mediator of Advertising Effects on Brand Attitude?," Journal of Marketing Research, 18 (August), 318-332.

Mitchell, Andrew A. (1986), " The Effect of Verbal and Visual Components of Advertisements on Brand Attitudes and Attitude towards the Advertisement, " Journal of Consumer Research, 13 (June), 12-24.

Newell, Allen, J.C. Shaw and Herbert A. Simon (1962), "The Process of Creative Thinking," in Contemporary Approaches to Creative Thinking, ed.Howard E. Gruber, Glenn Terrell and Michael Wertheimer, New York: Atherton Press.

Nunnally, Jum C. (1978), Psychometric Theory, 2nd ed., New York: Mc Graw-Hill.

Peter, J. Paul (1979), " Reliability: a Review of Psychometric Basics and Recent Marketing Practices," Journal of Marketing Research, 16 (February), 6-17.

Stewart, David W. (1981), " The Application and Misapplication of Factor Analysis in Marketing Research," Journal of Marketing Research, 18 (February), 51-62.

Trout, Jack and Al Ries (1989), "The decline and fall of advertising," Advertising Age, 60 (June 26), 20.

Whittier, Charles L. (1955), Creative Advertising, New York: Henry Holt Company.



Gabriele S. Haberland, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Peter A. Dacin, University of Wisconsin-Madison


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 19 | 1992

Share Proceeding

Featured papers

See More


Doing Good by Buying from a Peer: When and Why Consumers Prefer Peer Economy Purchases

John P. Costello, Ohio State University, USA
Rebecca Walker Reczek, Ohio State University, USA

Read More


The Mystique of Masculine and Feminine Choices: How Aversive Feelings Underlie Preferences

Niusha Jones, University of North Texas
Blair Kidwell, University of North Texas

Read More


Data... the 'Hard' & 'Soft' of it: Impact of Embodied Metaphors on Attitude Strength

Sunaina Shrivastava, University of Iowa, USA
Gaurav Jain, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
JaeHwan Kwon, Baylor University
Dhananjay Nayakankuppam, University of Iowa, USA

Read More

Engage with Us

Becoming an Association for Consumer Research member is simple. Membership in ACR is relatively inexpensive, but brings significant benefits to its members.