Adding to industry predictions for 2014, I feel the need to share something that has been on my mind for quite a while now. 2014 brings with it no surprises. People are smarter and agencies need to be even more agile than before — but beyond this, there is a need for creative and business minds to work together.
What place does creativity have in the realms of business you may ask? Well, if you think that some of the greatest business brains of our time are devoid of creativity, you’re sorely mistaken. When it comes to advertising and marketing, I have always believed in the adage, “creative solutions for business problems”. (I’ll be honest, I can’t quite remember where I heard it, so apologies for not crediting the author.) Let me reverse-engineer this for a second. What if creativity was led — or better yet, informed — by the numbers? What if all creative solutions were formed from the distilling of data to information? What if all marketing was led by the numbers? I can hear the creative mob spitting already… and the strategists poppin’ bottles.
I have always believed in information, but only recently did I become aware of how that information was curated specifically for my consumption. Let me be a little more specific; the material that I consume on a daily basis — be it numerical or literal — is the tail end of that information’s journey. It’s succinct (well, most of it), easy to understand and fairly easy to process. But that information started somewhere. It started with a collection and collation of data, research and sources.
Essentially, beginning the creative process with a researcher or data analyst is something that I feel many agencies forget or simply don’t have the resources to do. It’s not their fault. Not many could’ve seen the rise of the age of data-driven marketing — which, for the record, is where I think we’re all wading through at present.
Many could say, “well, that’s all we’ve always done” and you know what? They’re probably ahead of the curve, with their projections for focus areas and the ever popular “passion points”. But now’s the time to use that data-enforced grounding to drive creative marketing campaigns, both in digital and above the line.
Think me naïve if you wish, because in essence, this is what we all should’ve been doing all along. Right? Right. Strategists write briefs. Creatives interpret the briefs. And so on. But what if creative can’t interpret briefs? What if the briefs lend themselves to such goal-orientated marketing KPIs that a creative cannot do their job? Is it because they cannot process that information? What if the information is processed badly? Where does the fault lie? Do I have answers to those questions?
Not right now, no. Personally, I see a few agencies in the digital landscape at present that are sitting on an unexcavated and proverbial gold mine of information. The sleeping giants, as it were. You know who you are. I see you and I fear for my lunch and so should everyone else.
So, what does this mean for the local agency model? (Assuming that digital agencies have greater access to client and customer data than the traditionalists.)
Traditional agencies need to take heed of the value that the age of digital has to offer. Most digital agencies are doing their best to explore the opportunities in the traditional space, but very few traditional agencies are returning the favour.
With so many digital agencies chomping at the bit, you’d think the traditional agencies would be doing what they can to protect “their turf”. In the same breath, digital agencies attempting to bridge the gap with technology are failing because there’s something not quite right with their DNA.
If things are changing, then I fear that the rolling hills of traditional story telling will no longer be protected by the great and mighty traditionalists, but will be a place where all animals (read: agencies) will be able to frolic. Whether the pixel-pushers and the traditionalists will be able to graze peacefully, is yet to be determined.