Listen Now

On this episode, Taylor and Richard sit down to further unpack what we mean when we talk about being “against” creative testing. Topics of discussion include the importance of getting everything right before you start designing an ad, the behind-the-scenes work that goes into a great piece of creative, and why Ryan Reynolds (probably) would hate iterative creative testing.

Show Notes:
  • Go to today and Redo will waive all setup fees making the software completely free.
  • The Ecommerce Playbook mailbag is open — email us at to ask us any questions you might have about the world of ecomm.

Watch on YouTube

[00:00:00] Richard Gaffin: Hey folks. Welcome to the Ecommerce Playbook Podcast. I'm your host, Richard Gaffin, director of digital product strategy here at Common Thread Collective. And I'm joined as I always am by Mr. Taylor Holliday, who's of course the CEO here at Common Thread. Taylor, how you doing? How's how's the face? I think maybe that's the question that we need to address with the fans right now.

[00:00:17] Taylor Holiday: Yeah, I took a, I took a child seven iron to the face. You can see I have a black eye, potentially a fractured eye socket. I was attempting to coach my son in golf and made a really stupid decision of like standing behind him and placing my hand on his head to try and hold his head still. And his follow through nearly killed me.

So hat tip to the. Poor young lady at the swing easy golf club who had to administer first aid to my crumpled bloody self on the floor of the golf simulator. So, but here we are, you know?

[00:00:52] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. I mean, he must've gotten some distance on that swing at least. So,

[00:00:55] Taylor Holiday: Yeah. I think I'd have to go back and check the content, but all I remember is dad. Dad, are you alive? Dad?

[00:01:02] Richard Gaffin: that's the next thing you remember. That's funny. Yeah. Well, yeah, he hit you right in the moneymaker. Of course, but it's all right. We're we're pushing through today. It's I think today what we want to discuss is unpack a little bit more. Some of the conversations we've been having around creative.

So obviously I think it was last week or maybe a couple of weeks ago at this point where we discussed, sort of came out as anti creative testing. And of course that's not strictly true. And there's some nuance to that, but I think we wanted to unpack that a little bit further. And, and the, the lens that we want to look through it is, you know, Is this idea that not only do we hate creative testing, Ryan Reynolds hates creative testing too.

And of course this comes from a Tik TOK or something you watched recently, but Taylor, why don't you give us a little bit of a context around that statement?

[00:01:42] Taylor Holiday: Yeah. It was just an interview that Ryan Reynolds was giving at an investing conference, and he was sort of making the point that he's speaking to a roomful of investors and he says, you all have forgotten more than I'll ever learn about investing. And the sort of tactical mechanics of it. But what I understand is storytelling and its capacity to emotionally connect to culture.

And he was talking about how a brand can really scale and develop not only growth potential, but also resiliency. If it has an emotional place in people's lives and one that overlaps with some cultural experience that's happening. And it connects really I think clearly to a tweet I put out this week about Static images.

And I was making a, you know, a pointed statement that static images don't work, but images that feature great photography with a perfectly placed product that overlap with the cultural moment work. And it was just, again, to continue to harp on this point that brands should. Zoom out of the very narrow range at which they're looking at creative, which I think creative testing does.

It isolates you into this pool of this ad and the corresponding data on this ad and the changes I can make in that vein and zooms back out a little broader and goes, okay, what is happening? In culture generally, and how does my brand fit into that story in a way that could emotionally connect deeper with people?

And how do I build story and moment and impact and creative around those things? And so this, this Ryan Reynolds clip, I think is just another piece of evidence that we're using to say, Hey, the best people in the world understand that emotion, emotional connection is what we're after. And that culture and emotion for users, if your brand can find itself at the center of those things, they can be really impactful.

And I think that image that I used, if we were to throw it up here, editor, Corey is a good example where what it is. And it's funny if you go read the comments on it, it sort of illustrates this. It's a. Muscular woman in a very patriotic sports bra. That is a novel design. And I got, there's a comment in that thread that you'll read from a woman.

And she says, you obviously don't understand anything about selling to women because this has way too many straps and it's giving propaganda vibes. So nobody's going to want this. Well, that to me is a perfect illustration that we've actually found something that is both for someone and not for someone else, that we've actually pushed ourselves towards the right kind of creative that elicits an emotional response from people.

And it turns out she's wrong. There's actually a massive audience for that ad, and it transformed the ad account over the week for us was this patriotic collection, including specifically that image that generated. A 60 percent increase in the spend in an ad account overnight in a way that illustrates 4th of July is coming up.

This brand has a connection to this specific consumer base that values that culture, product, people, audience, really impactful result. And that didn't exist before. There was no previous iteration that made it happen.

[00:04:48] Richard Gaffin: Right. Yeah, yeah. So, cause I think like, it's interesting diving into some of the comments here. Like you're saying, so one of course is I respect you, but this is a really bad take. Enjoy the social engagement though. Of course, the idea that you're sort of, this is click bait in some way, which I guess in a sense it is, but then somebody else who commented here who said they don't work, of course they do, but better for some niches than others, especially in apparel, the point is to have creative diversification, which again, completely misses the point of the tweet, but I do think it's interesting that the response is to talk about. Format as opposed to content. And that's just sort of indicative of the way that we think about creative, generally speaking.

[00:05:24] Taylor Holiday: And, and it's mainly because that's what, that's what we're media buyers or people control and that the story exists at a deeper level. It exists at the brand level in a way that, or the product development level that oftentimes once it gets to the marketer, it's out of their control, so they can only think in form factor and Andrew actually, I think, wrote on the tweet.

Content over format. And that was like his simplified translation of what I'm saying in many ways. And I think that's exactly it. It's substance over style content over format is that the answer isn't. And even when we think about creative diversification, there's a danger in this idea, which is just like, Oh, so you're saying if I have a video.

And it's static image and a carousel ad and a vertical video and a square one that my ad account will work. And the answer is no, no, that will not simply solve the problem by changing the format of the ad, the substance of all of those, the images, the videos, the vertical videos, the carousels all matter most.

There's a conversation that exists at a level up at the marketing calendar or brand or product level that designs the substance of the ad before we get to the tactics of force. Format placement, et cetera, et cetera. Iteration of format, iteration of ad that is like, what's the root substance of the story to begin with that I think we need to invite more scrutiny and consideration of,

[00:06:45] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. I think that's interesting. Yeah. There's an interesting element here about like a lot of what we do, of course, is connecting like, marketing outcomes to financial outcomes, like, Hey, have a conversation with your CFO, but there's this additional layer of like, you know, Or there's a lack of conversation maybe between the people who are building the marketing calendar and thinking about product and the people who are building or actually executing the marketing.

And I think that's a little bit of what we're talking about here, because what your comment, what struck me about it is the idea that like, as media buyers, Our creative best practices. When we think about format, particularly the static image works better than video or whatever it happens to be is you're just dealt whatever cards you happen to be dealt and your only choice is to make the best of a bad situation.

Generally speaking. And if you're in that situation where. You have a product that's maybe not particularly connected to a marketing calendar or to a cultural moment, then maybe the best choice that you have is to yes, static images with apparel will probably generally work better than video or something like that.

But there's, again, it's, it's about connecting. It would be more effective to have the media buyers or to have your market, people executing your marketing, be part of the broader conversation about. Everything about that brand story. 

[00:07:53] Taylor Holiday: And this, there's an experience I was. With a fellow agency owner this past weekend, and he works as a consultant for a brand that we were in a long time pitch with, and they ended up going with a larger agency and we were reflecting on how that partnership was going so far. And he said, yeah, you know, I think there was this underlying belief that that agency was going to make all this magic creative and it was going to like, really transform the brand.

But it hasn't really come to life that way yet. And this is like my, the number one experience I have as an agency provider who doesn't do production or even when, when they do is that I think there's this like idea in people's heads that media agencies or growth agencies are like madmen style agencies.

And that's not at all what they are. And so there's this constant sense that you're going to get back from them, this like amazing story or groundbreaking campaign or idea that isn't the way that these organizations work or set up or are set up to work. And that that kind of campaign planning and storytelling either needs to happen from an advertising agency who does that specific kind of work or from your marketing leader in a way that defines who the business is going to be in the story that they're going to tell into the future.

And that's always where there's this sense of dissatisfaction that like, Oh, I got back another iterative thing with a headline change or the background, or you made it move in a different way. That's sort of exciting. And, but it's not transformative, like it doesn't create orders of magnitude, change in performance, like even, and this is where like iteration to me is.

A range of change that is small. It's not that it can't create change. It's that it's potential for change is generally pretty limited. When you want to talk about transformative business out, things that increase your efficiency, orders of magnitude, two X, three X, four X. You go from a 1. 4 in the ad account to a 4.

  1. There's not an iteration that that comes from. That comes from an underlying deeper cultural connection and campaign and product and moment. That hits the zeitgeist that really becomes the wave. It's the Stanley water bottle that explodes in the car on tick tock and all of a sudden gets 10 trillion impressions and Stanley water bottles become the accessory du jour for every woman in the world will now all the ad account.

Changes the whole thing changes, but that's cultural. It's emotional. It's deeper and bigger than any sort of singular change to a pre existing ad. Yeah.

[00:10:32] Richard Gaffin: then to go back to the beginning of this conversation, where we talked about what Ryan Reynolds was saying specifically about Brandon storytelling is that the medium in which Ryan Reynolds tends to work, like I'm thinking specifically with aviation gin is with the big Superbowl commercial or the big Superbowl style commercial, right?

I mean, Ryan Reynolds is a huge talent, obviously costs a lot of money to get them in there, all that kind of thing. So the medium that Ryan Reynolds is working in is brand storytelling. Sort of more mad many than it is like what

[00:10:59] Taylor Holiday: that's right.

[00:11:00] Richard Gaffin: And so it's like, what, to go back to that question about connecting, what we do to say the creative team or to the marketing calendar or whatever, it's like, how, what is, what ought we to do?

If you're a growth agency, if you're a media buyer, if you're producing creative for meta, which is this direct response environment, what's, what's the, do you throw up your hands and say like, well, I just hope I work for a better CMO or like, what's the,

[00:11:24] Taylor Holiday: Yeah, that's a great, that's a great question. I think in some ways the answer is yes. Is that you understand your skillset and who it compliments and you discard the illusion that you can solve the business for every brand if you don't have internally as an agency, that kind of creative workflow, then you can't make that kind of creative impact and you need to be honest about that.

And then yes, choosing your partners is really important. And finding the people who have that skill and are going to use you consistent with your capabilities is the whole thing. Now as a brand, though, what I would say is, I actually think this idea of building campaigns as if you were running a Super Bowl commercial, which is to say that you start the idea of a campaign or product release around the idea of a big story.

And then you ask yourself, what would that translate to? What would be the Facebook ad version of that campaign? Like this is what we used to do at Kayla. And I've shared this before. Is that. You start with a campaign story. And it's like an example of one that we did at Kalo was we were launching what we called the quality collection, which was a line of products targeted at people who worked with their hands and therefore couldn't wear a wedding ring.

So think people who work on assembly lines, they work in farms, they work on welding, they work. And we the campaign was called the mark of a maker. And the idea was. If you're a maker, your hands are actually symbolic of identifying to the world that you are that kind of person. You have dirty hands, you have a grime under your fingernails.

What like there is a mark that you have in the world that identifies who you are. And we were trying to take Kalo and make it synonymous with dirty hands is that if you saw someone with a Kalo, you would know something about them in the same way that you saw, if they had dirty or calloused hands. Okay.

Well, we have a story here that has a specific customer. It had a product line that went with it. It had symbolism. It had photography. It had the kind of influencers that we would want to support with it. We knew the channels we wanted to advertise in. And by building the story. You begin to build the framework to get all the way down to the static image at.

So now when you go to create a static image at, and you can create lots of variation, there can be farmer's hands. There can be chef's hands in powder. There can be a carpenter hitting a thing. They're all static images, but they have story audience substance. And then maybe you even tie them to labor day launch where we're celebrating people who labor, right?

You, you, you could relate it to a cultural period. But it starts with that whole campaign doesn't build from the static image up. Right. It builds from the story down. And I think that's really the key that I'm trying to get after with this is what is the story and how's it going to come to life everywhere?

Then we, as your partner can think about how to do that in Facebook ads, but we can't be the ones giving you that story up as a business.

[00:14:23] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. That makes sense. So, okay, this would be an interesting exercise, I think. So, let's pull up Corey, that image of, or the static image from Taylor's tweet of the Born Primitive Patriotic Collection. And I think what would be interesting is to reverse engineer this or work back from the static image.

To let's say back to the website, back to the product or whatever, to talk about like what's being shown in the static image, such that the story way back kind of here in the marketing calendar is actually being told and represented in the static image, right?

[00:14:59] Taylor Holiday: in the sense that we have. We know that for born primitive, their audience is the service men and women. It's crossfitters. It's people who see themselves as strength and they identify with American values. Let's just say that there's a component of nationalism.

They have pride in their American identity and everything that that embodies. And so there's something about the idea that you would wear a flag. CrossFit or flag sports bra that says something very clearly about what you're trying to communicate as your identity. And so there's like, you could think about a campaign that the 4th of July, that's like proud of us, you know, proud of this, this, of who we are, right?

Like, and Whatever the headline would be about as we head into 4th of July coming out of celebrating D Day, which was the last campaign they ran that there's this idea that like. In this moment, I think there's like this rise in populism and nationalism a little bit right now that is happening again.

This is setting aside any personal opinions of any of this. It's just like this is a thing that's at least for a subset of the country. There's a, there's a lot of movement towards that. The idea that as we head into this 4th of July in the midst of a potentially divided political season, like, We will be proud of this.

Um, And so there's a thread there, right? I'm not saying that's the end tagline or whatever, but you could see how the success of this image gives you a bunch of things. It gives you thematic elements, it gives you audience and it gives you product. Right. Those are the core tenants. And then the cultural moments, the 4th of July.

So we have the cultural moment. We have the audience, the customer, we have the theme and we have the product. And so from there, you begin to construct all around it, what you would say and who you would say it to. And that the good thing is the product line is a lot broader than that. It's not just women's sports bras.

It's men's shorts and women's you know, leggings. Like it's a very broad skew set. There's. Thin red line and thin blue line elements in there. Like it's a very specific tailored collection for an audience.

[00:17:02] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. Well, I think too, like one, one thing that's interesting about this is like how much of the the storytelling itself is in the product and the way it's constructed. So you've mentioned obviously at having the American flag on it. So that immediately speaks to a very specific type of person. Also the model being muscular is another clear indicator that this is for somebody specific.

And then finally, it's interesting that that woman mentioned the, the bra strap. Crisscross thing, because presumably she thinks this is jingoistic or whatever. This is not for her in any way for the CrossFit body. One of the reviews that people give of more primitive sports bras all the time is that they're actually perfect for women who are a muscular and be doing CrossFit all the time in terms of needing like an extra amount of support or whatever the case may be.

So in the product itself, in this static image is contained all of these layers of story about what the born primitive product is. And then fundamentally kind of what you were saying is like great products with beautiful photography, with unique customer map to a cultural moment work as static images.

And the only element in there that's actually has to do with the creative production is the beautiful photography. Which is to say like, this image doesn't look crappy. It's not out of focus or something. It looks, it looks good. It presents the product well, but all of the rest of the storytelling happened well before somebody clicked the shutter on the camera.

Right. And that's maybe ultimately like what we're saying is just like, as a creative, all you have to do is take a picture of something that already exists, but that thing that already exists, it better be great. Otherwise, you know, you're kind of dead in the water before you've even started.

[00:18:33] Taylor Holiday: That that's a great way to express it. The idea that like, is the story built before the graphic designer or the photographer get to work? You know, could you actually communicate those things, the cultural moment, the theme, the product like before a graphic designer gets the ad. And so often, like we step in at the graphic designer.

Role that's really a lot was happening. It's editing and design. And if, if you're looking for that person to create the story, I think you've got a problem. Like, I, I think that that has indicated that you're asking someone to take spare parts and turn them into something of substance. And I think it happens way before that.

I think it's a great, great sort of way to illustrate it. if they,

[00:19:13] Richard Gaffin: Okay. So let's, I think it'd be an interesting, another interesting exercise to like, take a hypothetical and talk to us about like, how you would construct. The marketing story, like the storytelling that needs to happen, all the things we just discussed before somebody actually starts graphic designing or whatever.

So the thing I always like to use, because I think it's a, it's a difficult one, it's like, let's say you have like a brand of wet wipes that works better than other types of wet wipes. And this is something that you're trying to sell on e commerce and you want to tell an emotional story about it. So again, and I think a lot of like.

People who are listening to this, their products fall into a category that doesn't immediately lend itself towards this type of cultural storytelling. However, that doesn't mean that that still doesn't need to happen on the back end. So say you have a

[00:20:00] Taylor Holiday: I've got it, I've got it, I've got it. Joey Chestnut was banned from the Nathan's 2024 hot dog eating contest. Okay. So if you don't know, Joey Chestnut is the like five time champion. And he was banned. I forget why. Something. What was he? Let's see if we can figure out why for Nathan's famous sponsor event had no stomach for, oh, he, he's sponsored.

He did a sponsorship with a plant based meat company. This is funny. And so Nathan's was like, well, screw you. That's our direct competition. You are not allowed to compete. Okay, well now. There is a Netflix, Netflix went and did this, they picked it up and it's, they're doing a Netflix special on 4th of July of Joey Chestnut versus Takehiro Kobayashi, one on one, wiener take all is the name of it.

Okay. Well, I want my wet wipes everywhere. I'm going to make the bib that he's wearing. I'm going to make, and I'm going to go all in on again, barbecue picnic, fourth of July, fricking wet wipes mania, right? So I'm going to try and get that as the my key cultural moment that I'm going to try and figure out how to participate in it, and I'm assuming wet wipes, we've got big money here.

So we're going after it, but it's illustrative of the idea. Okay. Now I want to shoot day with Joey chestnut. That's like him at home. And he's just like every, every meal that he eats is just like, he has cereal and he just dumps it all into his mouth. And then he wipes up the remnants. Then he goes to have lunch and he makes a sandwich and he just eats it all in one bite.

Right? Like, and it's just mayonnaise on his mouth and he just wipes it off. Right. And all of these things. And it's like, you know, able to clean up after the biggest meals on earth or whatever. Right. Like, and there's a, there's a story, a theme, a cultural moment, an influencer. And now you could break that down into a bunch of.

Static images from the day of the event where he's just got, you know, buns all over and water all over him, whatever it might be. And that turns into a bunch of static images that turns into a bunch of like, end caps at target, whatever it might be. But this story is getting a lot of play and that Netflix special is going to be everywhere.

It's a key 4th of July moment. So boom, there we go. I'm in. And the tagline is something about like. Cleaning up for the what, you know, how you clean up from the biggest meals on earth or whatever, you know, are able to handle the biggest messes, the biggest meal, the biggest messes from the biggest meals on earth.

[00:22:27] Richard Gaffin: But yeah, the point, the point being that all that work would have to be done before you actually get to

[00:22:31] Taylor Holiday: That's right. There's no, there's no Facebook media agency that's going to solve this problem for you or turn it into a campaign that transforms like, yeah. And, and like, here's the thing where people like, again, to your earlier point, if you want to iterate and creative test, the static images, once you've made them and you get some feedback, like whatever, go ahead, but it's just not the thing that's going to change whether this works or not.

Like it's all going to be baked. And I think that, like, that's, that's the thing for me is like, you just ideally we have some packages that are in the shape of a hot dog and you pop them open and you pull the wet wipes out of a hot dog shaped container. You know what I'm saying? Like, it's just so much bigger than this, the, the iterative change to the ad.

Once it's live in the account, you can't create that kind of impact that way. Or at least like the, the hamster wheel of it. Is going to be an exhausting, endless one that will kind of create these blips and moderate success versus. Really buckling in and going, okay, how do we get connected to culture?

Tell an emotional moment in a way that brings us top of mind. It affects things that are order of magnitude level different.

[00:23:37] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. Okay. So then I have a question too about like, so the example of weed is obviously is wet wipes. These are people have enough money to get Joey chestnut in the door or whatever at a smaller level. I just thinking about brands that are selling something that's sort of commoditized. It's not necessarily like a brand new invention.

We have, for instance, an admission member who sells like cutting boards, for instance, like when you don't have the resources to build that type of campaign, what's the level of storytelling or what effort needs to be put in? Or what's the most effective way to create that type of storytelling?

[00:24:12] Taylor Holiday: So I just go back to like, you just take all of these things and you scale them down to your relative potential at Kalo. We always, one of the things that we did when we had no money is we always tried to tap into whatever existing audience would. Value from us. So if we thought about finding a charity partner, you don't go after like the biggest, you don't, you know, the biggest, you don't go to charity water and say, Hey, we, as a tiny company would like to make an impact.

But like we did at one point, we did a thing called squats for tots and we held an event at our local park. With 50 of our friends. And we said, we're going to donate a dollar for every body weight squat. We, as a group of people do to a local toy drive and created content for it. And it was like, the end result was like 1, 200 that all of our friends did.

And we made some video content and we shared about it. And what it was, was we were rooting ourselves in story connection, fitness all the things that mattered to us around weight loss. I forget whether this was right before Christmas or whatever it was. I think it was. Cause like, it was like the logo we made was like Santa doing a squat, but again, was it a huge deal?

Did it change everything forever? No, but it's a scaled version of what I'm talking about, which is from the beginning, the brand expected to tell stories commiserate with its audience size, overlapping the brand identity in a way that over and over again, we repeated that premise. And as we grew, we spent more money doing it.

But from the beginning, it's like you tell a story that overlaps with those things, culture, product, charity, partnership. I did this thing. We were, we, we just did one of our partners, APL, we're sort of in this dance with them that like, what is our role in this and who. Who does what is it relates to this part of the storytelling.

And so we went up and had this meeting where we were sort of trading ideas and we went through a couple of case studies around the launch of a Ramona ALD launch, and then a Bodhi rec and Nike launch. And we looked at the content that got created around it. And there was this idea, this framework of like every launch you want to think about five.

Things, five P's. Okay. So it was product places, people, press partners. Okay. So every time there's a moment or launch you, you think about, okay, what's the product, what assets do we have to describe the product? And when I think about product stories, I think about a design story, a behind the scenes of it being made something that explains.

Why it exists in the world. Why is the product important places? You want the product to be in the visual setting that you want people to think about your brand in. So if you're APL, that's the F one event in Monaco. And that's like, if they're, if their brand identity is luxury performance, that's their brand identity statement.

Then you want to be in places that overlap those things. And the F one race in Monaco is the absolute perfect culmination of luxury performance. So you want. Your product to be photographed there. If you're going to shoot lifestyle imagery, it should probably be in a place like that. Then there's people.

Who do you want to be seen wearing the product? Well, the Red Bull racing team from the F1 team and Max Verstappen. And then some beautiful people on the sidelines. These are all really important tenants of telling this story. But then there's, Then press. Okay. Where do we want this to show up? Well, you don't want it to be in people magazine.

You want it to be in Vogue magazine, right? If you're luxury performance, it's really important that you're thoughtful about the kinds of places that it shows up. And then partners Red Bull racing team. So like, it's like, that's a story around a product launch and their products called the podium the podium release shoe.

And it's the shoe that, that F1 team. And there's like, okay. Okay. All the tenants of a story. Now we can take that and distribute it really effectively of using great tactical media, buying execution and pre provide a financial forecast. But like that story, that story is bigger than us as your partner.

Like, we're not gonna, we're not going to create that for you.

[00:28:01] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, no, that makes a ton of sense. I love, I love that five P's framework should do a, do a series on that or something like that. That's really interesting. Cool. Well, so let's maybe let's, let's wrap up here with an answer to one, one question that some people had after our last episode on this very question, which is, are we against creative testing?

And I believe the answer is no, but let's talk about the way in which we're not against creative testing.

[00:28:22] Taylor Holiday: Yeah. I think the struggle I have in many ways with creative testing is just making sure that you're at your, at your, Providing a corresponding action to an insight that actually tells you something definitively true. And to get to that is really hard. Now that said that's an example where you take test results and then you go make corresponding changes.

The idea of having five different ads that we allow to compete against each other in my mind is a creative test. We're running all the time. I think the question is, where do, where does the creative test occur? And then what is the corresponding action or insight that you generate? And how confident can we be that that insider action is causal?

And is that something that we could replicate? And that's a really high bar. But what I think about creative testing, we are giving meta a diverse set of ads and letting them compete and test against each other all the time. All the time. Every day is a creative test in my mind. We actually, I think I have a, in many ways, the broadest view of creative testing, which is that every day, every campaign is a test.

It's a test against the outcome that you want it to generate. What I have a problem with, I think, is people will run a set of variants against each other. One of them will perform best over some small sample period, and then they begin to infer why that occurred. And that's really challenging. And then they'll use that to inform a next set of creative that then we assume is going to get.

Up and improve as a result of that insight. And that cycle is really, really hard to do well.

[00:29:42] Richard Gaffin: Yeah. I think maybe redefining creative testing as just It's sort of like, I don't know, horse racing or something like that. Or, you know, you put a bunch of what's the thing like we do when you're a kid, you have like, put a bunch of bugs and see which one runs the fastest or something like that.

The idea again, is like, you're not testing in order to learn something per se, other than you're just trying to get as many swings as possible. You're just sort of putting as many horses in the race as you possibly can. And that is in itself a form of testing. But the idea there is not to AB test per se, right.

Or like,

[00:30:13] Taylor Holiday: Well, well, exactly. I think what you're describing is the pursuit of learning. And I think the learning is less valuable than we think it is because it's not as true as we think it is. And that's the hard part in a lot of ways. It's like, I think about it like this, like, what have I learned about parenting?

Okay. Well, I have lots of opinions about my experience of parenting, but the danger That they would be applicable to either my next child or your children, Richard. So like, like, I was with a good friend of ours, a CDC employee who just shared that they are with child, which is exciting. They haven't shared that yet, so I won't state it publicly.

And so as it naturally does, you begin to devolve into a conversation about the challenges of parenting and what might work. And so he starts talking about things like sleep habits and when you should do X, Y, and Z with your child. And I have learnings from my experience. But the danger is, is that if I assert that that will be true in the next case for his child, I think there's a ginormous scientifically rigorous gap between my advice and the truth.

And I think this is a lot like creative testing, where we run a set of ads for a small period of time, and then we begin to assert things about that result and how it will apply to the future. And in the same way, I would say very lightly, here's what happened I can state what happened with my kids and offer that as a basis for your potential next test.

But I would never say that like, you should for sure do this sleep pattern because that's what worked with my child. I think there's like some of that that occurs in a way that I, I find to be dangerous. And so when I critique creative testing, I think it's because I experienced most of it kind of like parenting advice.

[00:31:53] Richard Gaffin: Yeah, that makes sense. Or maybe like it would be like taking the advice. Hey, don't give your child a seven iron because he's going to hit you in the face as like a general rule. When, of course, that just applied to the single situation that you happen to be in. Yeah,

[00:32:07] Taylor Holiday: Well, the metaphor I get is like the way I experienced Twitter a lot is. Somebody could say something like seatbelts save lives and then, and then people will respond with this time that someone strangled to death in a lake with their seatbelt and therefore seatbelts don't save lives.

And you're like, okay, this is, this is a huge distinction between. In every case all the time, or probabilistically what is most likely to save lives and what has saved lives a lot and why you should start with in your car, wearing a seatbelt, not testing whether or not you should wear a seatbelt. Like there's like a principle that is true.

Most of the time that gives you the highest likelihood of a probabilistically good outcome that you should learn from the experience and research of the past and begin with. And then. Accept that that won't be true all the time, that sometimes a seven iron is bad. And sometimes the seatbelt will strangle you to death, but that the existence of that edge case doesn't invalidate the principle to begin with.

[00:33:07] Richard Gaffin: So speaking of those principles, then I'm curious, like, what do you think? And this is sort of like almost a general philosophical question about knowledge, but what do you think that you can learn from creative testing beyond just that this ad at this time, one, what is like, how are you thinking about like these sets of creative testing for my, my brand what's worked in the past or whatever?

What are the kind of like, how do you think about drawing general principles about approaching creative from that type of thing?

[00:33:32] Taylor Holiday: Yeah. So I try to look at over the course of 10 years, all the brands that we have worked with and the things that have produced the most meaningful change for the business. And I try and extract out principles that I would never express as definitively true, because I think this is really, really hard to get to.

But I think this is, this is what I'm trying to do. And the principle is that When the product overlaps with the cultural moment in a way that's planned for and distributed across the variety, the multitude of the places in the business in the most compelling way possible that emotionally connects with a specific customer, you generate good outcomes.

And I think if you listen to Ryan Reynolds clip again that we shared on here, it's similar. That's a principle that emotional storytelling moves people. And when you can do that, well, you can create the most impactful marketing effort as a brand possible. It's, and it's what I've seen our businesses do that have made the biggest impact.

In the world. And again, that's not next week's Facebook campaign necessarily. And I understand that that's not always what you can do, but that's what's driven me to this place is that over and over again, from the best brands in the world, what I see is that the reason that they're successful is so much deeper than any individual creative test funnel that they've run.

[00:34:49] Richard Gaffin: Makes sense. All right. Well, I think it makes sense to begin and end with Ryan there. Folks, thanks so much for joining us again this week. And yeah, we'll see y'all next week. Take care.