In this guest post, Bronwyn van der Merwe, General Manager, Fjord Asia Pacific, Accenture Interactive says creativity is the key to future-proofing your business…
Creative industries and the consumers they serve are changing more rapidly than ever before. New technologies and the digital economy have presented complexities that challenge traditional ways of thinking and doing. Budgets have decreased but at the same time, demand from senior management for tangible return on investment has increased. Deadlines and timelines have shrunk and the pressure to churn out quality work is immediate.
The overall Australian landscape is quickly transforming, evidenced in continual mergers that set new expectations across the industry. Last year, we witnessed one of the biggest in history with the merger of Fairfax and Nine. While these changes strengthen the industry, they also create challenges in navigating the multi-layered landscape of services and skills.
So, what is the solution to making it through alive and well? Creativity.
Creativity amongst all this movement is and must remain the key to unlocking longevity. Here are four trends to help organisations future proof their business and ultimately, their creativity.
Creating a difference in the new customer experience
The race to stand out and pressure to be different has created unhealthy tensions in delivering creative work. Insourcing, high tech spending and agency cost-cutting puts pressure to deliver quantity over quality. Yet it’s consumers who lose out as brands show movement, but not necessarily meaning.
Underfunded and under-pressure creativity has led to the homogenisation of the customer experience – ‘digital sameness’ is more pervasive than ever. Brands need to stand out if they expect to survive amongst the masses.
Coca Cola’s famous #ShareACoke campaign remains a textbook example of unique creativity in action. It transformed an everyday occurrence – buying a drink, into a highly personalised customer experience. Turning the mundane into something personal and elevating Coca Cola through unique, intimate touchpoints.
Collective creativity – technology and creativity work together
We need an investment operative that includes creative. US$19 billion is invested in ad tech annually – while there is obvious merit in that, there also needs to be some investment in agency creative if we want tech that matters.
This of course stirs the rising point of tension between technology and creativity. With the constant changes across the industry, the need for both to not only coexist but actively collaborate, is more important than ever.
Technology is critical to future success, but investment should in no way overtake the fundamental human attributes of curiosity, imagination, and invention that are fed by creativity. Applying insightful creativity and coupling that with technology is where the magic happens. For example, Qantas recently worked with The Monkeys, part of Accenture Interactive, to create the ‘Out of Office Travelogue’ platform. This service transforms the bland employee out of office reply by connecting people’s email to their Instagram and updating their auto email reply in real time, with a showreel of the latest photos from their travels.
In a beautiful collaboration of the agency creative and the agency tech working together, Lexus used AI technology to write the perfect advertisement, created using 15 years of data of Cannes Lion award-winning ads.
Play nicely in the brand house
Putting the divide between creative and tech aside, there is an even bigger debate to determine which produces better results – agency or in-house.
The reality is the industry has fundamentally changed. It must no longer be a two-sided debate of either-or, but rather a discussion of how we can utilise the best of both. Conversations must shift towards working together and working better.
Marriot International has acknowledged this, adopting a hybrid approach and launching a new unit – global marketing optimisation, as part of its marketing team. It handles strategy and planning, while PR company Publicis’ dedicated team Marriott One Media, handles execution.
In between the battle of the boundaries, businesses must instead be reminded of what’s most important – delivering quality results as efficiently as possible. The goal must be to find the right fit and focus on nourishing creative talent regardless of their in-house or agency roles.
Apply madness to methodology
It’s no secret that relevancy is fundamental to longevity, for both clients and consumers. But without innovation, a brand cannot expect to stay relevant.
Excellent results are not just born out of a brainstorm, but are created through an ongoing lens of innovative, intuitive thinking – with a bit of madness thrown in!
Accenture recently worked with Telstra to develop a Marketing Mix Modelling approach, which taps into elements such as social media activity and computer intelligence to aid marketing strategy.
Telstra’s pivot to a data-driven approach is a fine example of the need for brands to find new ways of working that will create demonstrable results, relevancy, and most importantly, create meaningful touchpoints with customers.
Agencies must not be afraid to play around with new ways of working and approaching the traditional creative process.
So, in these turbulent times what can brands do to build a base for longevity?
- Change the talent paradigm:
Creativity helps organisations build a culture that attracts talent, and that inspiration is inextricably tied to the brand’s ability to impart a belief in the core mission and vision.
- Branding in real time:
Creativity is a team sport, requiring a group of people, a shared economy, technology and ultimately, shared creativity. This requires staying relevant with consumers and changing in real time.
- Finding the right fit:
There are a multitude of innovative methods pushing the creative process towards great work. Given there is no better time for creativity, there’s no better time to explore or evolve your model and ensure you’re future-proofing your business with best-in-class, award-winning methods and models.
Without communication or activation that actually means something – different, innovative, smart and yes, slightly mad in its method – no brand or business can expect to withstand the upcoming seasons of changes, mergers, demands and expectations. Future proofing your business has never been so vital.