Written by Gemma Lingham

For a long time, creativity in PR was thought of as floating a giant structure down the Thames or organising a mass flash mob in Times Square. Granted, there’s no denying that grand gestures can go some way in terms of brand awareness, and they do have a place, but we’ve moved away from this misconception. Now, more than ever, we’re thinking about how our creative efforts can reach the audience we want to get to and the kind of impact that it will have.

Take for example the launch of Virgin’s TV app for kids in the Summer of last year. A giant trampoline bed in Kings Cross might initially seem like the result of a wacky PR team. But actually, it was based on research revealing all of the things that children like to get away with – one of which was jumping on their parents’ bed. Aiming to illustrate what it really means to be a kid, the bed would have caught the attention of many parents commuting through the station on their way to and from work and others taking their children on days out during the summer holidays.

To me, it seems like Virgin got this creative stunt right and shows that campaigns like this can work. But when it comes to financial services, particularly capital markets, is it possible to explain complex issues like MiFID II and research unbundling in such a way? Probably not – I can’t think of anything on the scale of the Virgin bed that would accurately explain the mind-boggling nature of regulation (perhaps a maze would be along the right track?), but more importantly, how it would actually get in front of the right people and explain the solutions.

This is where creativity doesn’t need to be the equivalent of a Broadway show. As Philip Stafford, Editor of the FT Trading Room, shared with us last week – the most watched video on the FT website for the beginning of January was actually a simple video explaining what MiFID II is.

Explaining these topics, and some of the ways to solve them, doesn’t have to be “boring” – as the FT video shows. A short video, or an interesting piece of content are all different types of creativity that shouldn’t be discarded in initial planning phases – as Walt Whitman once said, “simplicity is the glory of expression”.

Take our work with BSO as an example. How could we explain the complex issues of the faster execution speeds required for high frequency trading, or the impact of trading less liquid asset classes on exchanges as a result of MiFID II? Well let’s start by explaining why the two are similar to the Christmas party season and the Indian Premier League respectively, because in fact, they aren’t all that different.

By relating such tricky subjects to things that people can relate to on a human level, they become far more compelling and easy to digest. These are big, important topics that will have an impact on the financial markets, so they need to be understood. But by approaching them from a way that might not seem immediately obvious, they suddenly become far more comprehensible.

Simplicity and creativity don’t need to be worlds apart, but as our work with BSO illustrates, can actually liven up typically complicated subject matters.

My next aim is to illustrate what Beyoncé and banking regulation have in common – only then will I have nailed simplistic creativity.

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