Why Creatives Should Embrace Data

Why Creatives Should Embrace Data

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It might elicit a groan, but those in creative need to get on board with data.

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It might elicit a groan, but those in creative need to get on board with data, argues freelance creative Marque Kabbaz.

Recently I had the good fortune of being retrenched from my role as a senior creative in a traditional advertising agency. It’s something people in my industry accept as a natural part of the peak and trough life cycle of advertising. Win a pitch – hire-a-palooza. Lose business – start cutting back on expensive people.

But this time around, I had already made the decision that I was ready to do more with my creative curiosity. I joined the industry because I was insatiably curious by nature, saw ideas in everything, and was driven by stories. I finished my degree in psychology and jumped into a graphic design and advertising degree straight away. Figure out how people make decisions then learn how to deliver messages that have the desired outcome. (Today, combining these areas has become known as behavioural economics.) I thought that advertising was the perfect fit for my personality type and my love of stories.

For a long time it was.

But something shifted in me. And something shifted in the industry at large. Freedom of expression was always encouraged, but only supported if it fell in line with the CD’s vision (and with each one having a different idea about what ‘great’ work was, this was an ever-moving target), the strategist’s insights and the account manager’s view of what the client wants. But even more challenging, for me, was the fact that insightful, engaging stories were not the focus any more. It was about ‘cool’ and ‘innovative’ and ‘authoring ideas the world talked about’. It began to remind me of Dan Shapiro’s blog post on company culture being a meaningless platitude.

Add to that the fact that traditional agencies were still talking about integrating digital into their business models, but really, the digital departments were still being utilised as production, not creative. We live in a digital world – digital integration happened years ago. If anything, agencies need to figure out how to integrate traditional media and thinking into today’s digital world.

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