Algorithmization of creativity: creating interesting advertising without creativity

Anticipating outrage over the use of the word “creative,” I hasten to note that it is difficult to use a synonym in the context of this article. Fair.
The main idea is that absolutely any brain process can be algorithmized . I took advertising as an example for evidence because:
  1. Everyone can understand and appreciate interesting advertising;
  2. Advertising is strongly tied to creativity and non-standard thinking, which usually seems chaotic and weakly amenable to algorithmization;
  3. I just really love advertising. And the algorithms.

Before starting, it would be dishonest not to mention that there are still some tricks in the algorithm. Understanding them - pluses in karma. So.

Performing any task, in fact, comes down to finding answers to “What?” How? Why?". Remember from school: Given, Decision, Proof. Huh?


First you always need to understand the subject in detail. For example, the auto industry: to create an engine, you need to know what the engine is, how it interacts with other parts of the car - you need to answer in detail the question "what are we dealing with, what is it?". Otherwise, it will not work out a car, but a piece of iron (although, for example, the domestic auto industry does not bother it at all).

In our task, it is necessary to understand how advertising in general becomes creative. Since “creativity” is a property, this property must have certain prerequisites, the reasons for its occurrence.

How does advertising get creative?

There is definitely a difference between the two examples. We need to formulate it in order to move on.

Creative advertising makes people laugh, shows something from an unexpected angle, hints about the merits of its product - in a word, it plays with our imagination, with our feelings and does it with the help of images. That is, we can say that creative advertising creates an image, and this image is fresh and unusual.

This allows you to detail the task: since you need to create an image, there must be tools for this (as always, when you need to create something, there are tools for this).

How to create an image?

Tools for creating an image (they are also trails) should be known from the school literature course. Just in case, refresh the memory:
  • Hyperbole is an exaggeration of the property of an object.
  • Litota - as opposed to a hyperbole, an understatement of the property of an object.
  • Comparison - comparison of an object with another based on one common property.
  • Metonymy - this is the conduct of speech about an object, in which not the object itself is called, but its attribute or another object that is closely connected with it. For example, showing in advertisements of diapers of peacefully sleeping parents, we metonymously talk about the high quality of diapers.
    Metonymy is not a direct tool for creating an image, but, nevertheless, is the most important path in advertising. As a rule, when assessing the degree of creativity of an advertiser, they mean precisely his ability to use metonymy.

That's all.

Any creative advertisement consists only of these paths and their combinations.

Hyperbole, exaggeration of the sharpness of a knife

. Comparison of objects based on the "protection" property of

Hyperbole + metonymy

What property do you need to work with?

In advertising, this property is a unique selling proposition (UTP), that distinguishes a product on the market and distinguishes it from competitors. The following requirements are imposed on this property:

  1. It should not be a complex, combination of properties, but a single and indivisible property. As a rule, the more indivisible it is, the greater the effect of an advertising campaign, because the simpler the information, the faster and better it is perceived. Suppose, in the framework of an automobile advertising company, it is erroneous to position it as “comfortable”, it is much better to split the “comfortable” property into components and to promote one of them. Here you can object: “Branding!”, But in this article we consider only the issue of creating a creative advertising concept within the framework of one advertising company, and not the brand as a whole.
  2. In addition to indivisibility, USP should be formulated as abstract as possible. The more abstract it is, the more material that can be used in the work.
    Let’s say you advertise an SUV and UTP passability, and you think, “OK, this is a good offer.” However, if we say not “cross-country ability”, but “ability to overcome obstacles”, then the range of images suitable for use will expand significantly: for example, a grasshopper or climber is difficult to characterize by the “cross-country” property, but “ability to overcome obstacles” is easy.
    There is a small trick that allows you to check the appropriate level of abstractness of the USP: if the first three or four objects caught your eye can find your property, then the proposal is formulated quite abstractly.

This algorithm assumes that you already have a USP. If not, then on this topic it is worth reading material on the network, since there is plenty of it.
So, it’s clear what creative advertising is and what needs to be done to create it: with the help of tropes to influence the indivisible, abstractly formulated unique selling proposition of the advertised product.


Which trail to use first? Of course, if you simply apply, for example, a hyperbole to the USP or compare an object with another, it would be difficult to call it a creative advertisement (from our definition we remember that creating an image is not enough, it is important that this image is new, unusual).

Unusual - one that is not obvious and one that has not yet been. To find it, you need to describe:
  • Properties of the advertised product that interact with the USP. For example, in order to understand that a person has been running fast for a long time, it is not necessary to see it directly, you can also understand this by his shortness of breath and shortness of breath, that is, by the properties that are associated with running.
  • The next thing to describe is the objects that interact with the advertised. Moreover, it is important to understand that objects interact with each other with their properties. For example, people interact with the “speed” property of a car with their “safety” property.

We must say about our property without explicitly calling it - we must use metonymy.

Rules for the use of metonymy

Since you need to describe many objects and properties, it is best to do this in the form of a diagram.

All properties can interact with each other in only four ways: enhance, weaken, activate, and deactivate.

Suppose the property "speed" in a car, amplifying, also strengthens its property "fuel consumption". And, on the contrary, weakens the “safety” property in people. Or in general - activates the ability to fly.

To build the most complete list of relationships between properties and objects, you can use the following rule: absolutely any property has at least two connections for each interaction method (when strengthening, any property necessarily strengthens, weakens, activates or deactivates another property from its own and from another object) . Thus, the starter set always amounts to at least 16 links (8 links between your properties and 8 links with other objects).

The most important property of metonymy and the most important thing to understand in it is the cyclical nature of its use.. Having built a car’s connection with the “safety” property in people, the metonymy can be reapplied using the same scheme, but to the “safety” property, see how it is related to other properties of people and what other objects interact with people through their “safety” property . Such a cyclical application of metonymy allows you to create a complete and interesting image.

After the starting diagram is constructed around the USP, you can finally begin to apply the paths (hyperbole, litota or comparison) and observe the effect caused (using the described methods of interaction of properties). Next, you need to focus on any effect, reapply metonymy, again observe the effect, and so on. At this stage, using a hyperbole or a litota, one can already find certain solutions on the second or third circle of metonymy.

However, we have not yet considered the last, richest trail - comparison.

Rules for using comparison

The following types of comparisons can be distinguished in advertising:

  1. Comparison with an object that is a direct competitor to the advertised (“nameless powder” - “advertised powder”).
  2. With an object whose advertised property is much stronger (vehicle and bullet speed).
  3. With an object whose advertised property is much weaker (car and snail speed).

Regardless of type , the following methods for using comparisons exist:

  1. Replacing the advertised object with a comparable one.
  2. Replacing the compared object advertised.

For example, comparing other powders with the advertised one, we may ask: “What if our powder does not exist, but only those that are now? What effect will this have on the properties of our powder and on other objects? What properties will it strengthen or weaken? ” And vice versa: "What will happen if all the powders become like ours?"

It is important to understand that the comparison method is not at all related to its type.

Algorithm Example

Let's say our advertised object is a car, and our UTP is speed, overcoming the maximum distance in the minimum time. The first is to apply metonymy: we build speed connections with other properties of the car (fuel consumption, driver safety, tire erasure, etc.) and fix the nature of the interaction (fuel consumption +/ +, driver safety +/–, etc.).

Next, we build the connection of the car with other objects through its speed: pedestrians, road surface, etc. Bearing in mind that there is at least one property of each character of the interaction of properties, let us think about which object through the “speed” property can a car start to interact when the speed increases several times? The first thing that comes to mind is the Formula 1 championship and the participation feature of the championship, + / on connection.

Next, we must decide which path to use. There are no rules about which path and in what order to use after metonymy, act by intuition, because in any case, you can always go back and start from another path.

We will start by comparing, the form “comparing with an object that is a direct competitor”, the method of “replacing the advertised object with a comparable one” (put the rest of the cars, which, according to the UTP, have lower speed, in place of our car).

Further, we should observe the effect according to the scheme we constructed: Since direct competitors have less speed, we can say that our speed has decreased. We recall that the connection between speed and fuel consumption was + / +, so now the fuel consumption has become less (because the speed has decreased). It seems to be nothing promising, so we continue to sort out the connections that we managed to fix, and get to the championship. With a decrease in speed, the "participation" property is turned off. In other words, if our car was like everyone else, then the “participation” property would be inactive. It is reasonable that the championship cannot exist without participants, so we can say that if our car was not so fast, then Formula 1 would not exist. This seems like a good concept, we will develop it.

Again we apply metonymy, but now to the “car participation” property of the “Formula 1 championship” object. What are its other properties and how does it interact? For example, “fullness of the stands”, + / +. Accordingly, if the “participation of cars” is low, then the “occupation of the stands” is also low. But this already looks like a final decision. We show the empty stands, the caption: "This is what Formula 1 would look like if the world did not have McLaren."

All we did was just focus on one of the properties in the start-up scheme, but you can focus on any other and develop the idea in its own way.

In this case, an abstract formulation was not needed, however, we might want to use a different kind of comparison and then, if we were to use the “speed” property, we would be limited in the choice of images. However, as soon as we abstractly formulated “speed” as “overcoming the maximum distance in the minimum time”, we got a much wider range of images for work, one of which could be a teleport. For instance.


It would seem that at this stage you can finish: the tools are given, instructions are attached to them, I do not want to invent them. But we, of course, want to be the best, right? Therefore, we will do a little more than what is required of us: we will try to simulate the work of each of our ideas in real life in order to prove the viability of our idea, we will answer the question “why will this work?”. To do this, we need to trace the entire path of the idea from its formation to the achievement of the final result.

The scheme of the movement of ideas from formation to the final result

The idea as if sends an impulse, which is transformed, passing through various objects (circles). How strong the initial idea will be influences what the final result will be. Each stage of the transformation, marked in red in the figure, has at least three characteristics that must be described:

  1. The moment of occurrence.
  2. Duration
  3. What is being implemented.

For example, for the stage of the movement of an idea from the image of the product to the perception of the consumer, we must answer the following questions: when the consumer comes into contact with the image of the product, how long does it last and with the help of which advertising media is implemented.

In addition, you need to describe each of the circles specifically applicable to the product: what is the consumer in your case, what is the instance of the advertised object, and what is the final result by which they will judge the success of the advertising company (this can be net profit, or increase recognition , or the number of calls, etc.).

After these moments are framed, chase away each of your ideas according to this scheme. This will allow:

  1. To rethink some ideas that may not be closely related to the product to avoid creativity for the sake of creativity (although this is permissible if you are advertising to participate in the festival).
  2. It is more clear to see the whole picture, which can provide new material for building ties.
  3. Argumentally defend your concept before management or the customer.

I recommend doing the run according to the scheme the day after the formation of the final pool of decisions in order to refresh your head and evaluate the result with a more sober look.


Ultimately, we get the following algorithm for developing creative advertising:

  1. Formulate UTP, check it for atomicity and sufficient abstractness;
  2. Apply metonymy to a property, fix the nature of its interaction with other properties and objects.
  3. Use an arbitrary path in an arbitrary area, observe the effect.
  4. Repeat paragraphs 2 and 3 until a satisfactory solution is found. Or until you get bored.
  5. Having formed the final list of ideas, drive everyone away through the cycle of movement of the idea.

Of course, it doesn’t always happen that a good decision comes immediately, you don’t need to get upset if after a couple of minutes of working on an idea there is a feeling of deadlock. Feel free to discard this decision and go back one step, because you have a huge number of options and tools for exploring each of them. It’s a pity that with girls this works a little harder.

With all this, dear harazhitel, this algorithm should not serve as a panacea.

If you are already an expert in the field of advertising, you do not need to follow every point verbatim, perhaps in some places you decide to act differently and this is excellent, because the algorithm should only stimulate the imagination, provide the basis for further independent thoughts.

If you are just going to get acquainted with the world of advertising, then the algorithm will help you to get comfortable and not “sink” the first time, but in the future you need to take steps yourself for further self-improvement.

For quite a long time I tried to find something similar in Russian and Western literature, and all I could find was TRIZ. If you are aware of such an algorithm, please write in a personal letter, it will be very interesting for me to see how other people have solved (or not) some problems.

I urge the comments on the results of work on this algorithm.

By the way, I conduct seminars on this algorithm, where I present the material in much more detail, answer questions and drink tea. If anyone is interested - write.

My site .

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