They assessed 200 ads that were winners in top advertising competitions and found that 89% of the ads could be classified into 6 broad templates. They went on to run an experiment with 3 groups of average people "off the street" who were asked to come up with ads for 3 products. 1 group had no instruction, another were given training in creative brainstorming and the last were trained on the 6 templates. The top 15 ads from each group were selected by an experienced creative director and tested on consumers.
The result...the ads in the last group were rated 50% more creative than the other groups and produced a 55% more positive response to the products advertised. And this was after 2 hours of training!
So what are the secret templates for creativity? As a rough rule of thumb its all about disruption, unexpectedness and the unusual. Below are the 6 templates and some modern day examples.
Extreme/ unusual Situations
Competition (often in an unusual situation or use)
Altering dimensions (ie changing time, space)
An ad from Hoover. Tagline: For a product demo break glass