Divergence and Relevance in Advertising Creativity: Theory Testing in the Nigerian Context

Olarotimi, Busayo Anthony


There has been a long-existing argument among advertising scholars about what is advertising creativity and the factors that determine creativity in advertising. While certain scholars have argued that there cannot be a definite definition for the concept because of its dependent on many factors, others have stood upon certain theoretical bases to proof that there are determining factors for developing creative advertisements. This paper examines the most discussed theory of creativity, that is, theory of divergence and relevance. The theory proposes that creative advertisements are those that are both divergent and relevant.  Advertisements that are divergent have the following: originality, flexibility, synthesis, elaboration, artistic value and humour. Advertisement’s relevance to the consumers, brand’s relevance to the consumer and the advert/brand’s relevant to the culture of the consumer are other propositions of the theory. This research employs content analysis to examine selected Nigerian advertisements which had won awards of creativity. The nine variables of divergence (6) and relevance (3) listed above were used as the content categories while the selected TVs were the unit of analysis. The contents of each TVC were quantitatively analyzed based on the perception of selected Nigerian consumers. The result revealed that no single advertisement contained all the creativity factors.Only four out of the nine factors of creativity had frequent occurrences in the commercials. Out of the four, humour is the most applied technique that made the advertisements creative to the audience. It was proposed that practitioners could exploit the use of humour in creating award-winning commercials.

Keywords: Advertising creativity, measuring scale, Divergence, Relevance, theory testing

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