Are brands guilty of a lack of creativity in their mobile marketing?

We asked six leading marketers whether they believe brands are guilty of a lack of creativity in their mobile marketing.

Andrew Warner, Vice-president of marketing, Monster Worldwide


Although there are pockets of good work, mobile seems to have caught out many traditionally creative brands. Effective, creative work in mobile needs to work end-to-end. Integration with the overall customer experience and brand position is vital, otherwise executions can seem tactical or gimmicky.

Agencies can, of course, deliver beautiful apps, video content and well-designed, if small, banners. Magic always occurs, though, when creative platforms have the strength to endure. Great ideas amplify a brand’s promise beyond the mundane or short term.

A separate mobile strategy will always be suboptimal to a big idea for which the mobile element brings together creativity, data, media and technology: elegantly, relevantly and contextually. Change is in the air, but I look forward to seeing a major brand take my breath away with bold creativity enlivened through mobile media

Clare Field Group marketing director, Manheim


Lack of creativity comes with brand-owners who are desperate to have mobile presence, but don’t understand the need they are trying to satisfy. People consider their mobile device as a very private space, and many brands would do well not to presume to be welcome there. 

Knowing who your customer is, their location and what they might be doing gives today’s marketers smarter opportunities to engage creatively than, say, a talking puppet or a singing satsuma ever will.

Manheim is the world’s biggest vehicle-auction company. Customers who can’t make our auctions can still browse, bid and buy using our Simulcast mobile technology. Bidding and buying a vehicle while 30,000ft up in a plane, or ploughing a field on a tractor, are just two genuinely creative examples [of engagement]. Flowering our message with a singing satsuma might just muddy the waters… or the field.

Emma Woods Group marketing director, Merlin Entertainment


A more fundamental issue than poor creativity is that we don’t always appreciate the rules of engagement for this channel. Given the extreme intimacy of this medium, mobile display ads, however small, are invariably perceived to be invasive and are probably quite off-putting.

We must, therefore, start using greater subtlety to gain "permission to engage" and then join the conversation our customers are having on mobile. Some marketing teams already understand this.

Thanks to its #mycalvins campaign, Calvin Klein underwear is topping people’s shopping lists once again; and, with more than 1m Instagram followers, Triangl, a new Australian company, has British women clamouring to wear a £50 bikini made from wetsuit material. Trailblazing work like this demonstrates beyond any doubt the incredible impact that strong creativity can have.

Jon Davie Managing director, Zone


Never mind creativity, too many brands are failing with the basics
of mobile marketing – websites that aren’t optimised for mobile, emails that don’t render properly, func-tionality that just doesn’t work.  

Mobile isn’t just a smaller version of the desktop, and exploiting mobile as a creative platform means starting at a different place. For too many brands, marketing equals advertising, and disruptive advertising is never going to work on a platform as personal as the mobile. 

Looking at my own phone, it’s instructive that most of the brands that have earned a place on my home screen were created in the mobile era – brands like Hailo, Dropbox, Garmin, JustEat and Zoopla.  

Clients and agencies alike have a long way to go before we fully understand the implications of a mobile-first world, and if we don’t understand the platform, we’ll never unlock its full potential

Rob Pierre Chief executive, Jellyfish


"The year of mobile" and "mobile first" have become popular marketing buzz phrases. Despite this, the platform is often still being treated as an add-on, with the vast majority of campaigns lacking genuine creativity.

Practical concerns such as connectivity, bandwidth and screen size will naturally act as a barrier to creativity, as marketers prioritise accessibility and the user experience.While these are valid concerns, they don’t need to stifle the creative process. Perhaps the greatest opportunity for brands to be creative in their mobile marketing lies in the use of technological innovations.

The most successful brand campaigns will take advantage of technology in order to engage consumers and capture their imaginations. As devices become more advanced and varied, the need to get creative will continue to rise.

Sophie Maunder-Allan Chief executive, VCCPme


Very few brands make use of location-specific advertising and the plethora of mobile publishing platforms and technologies, but building usefully ubiquitous ads is an expensive adventure, largely into the ROI-unknown.

Add to that the many different user experience norms that the varied mobile platforms provide, and the take-up of anything more than a basic click-through becomes challenging to improve on.

However, it’s certainly true that many efforts lack any creative acknowledgement of the platform on which they are being displayed; they are a generic extension of online (desktop) advertising and print.

Interruptive, broadcast-style brand messaging doesn’t make the most of the opportunities that the medium presents. Mobile is a very personal and active engagement experience for users, so brands should be trying much harder to capitalise on this

Each month The Forum questions members of The Marketing Society on a hot topic. For more on membership, visit

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