Magazine article Marketing

Sunning or Lunching

Magazine article Marketing

Sunning or Lunching

Article excerpt

Whether you're sunning yourself on La Croisette Carving or lunching 'al desko' in Crawley, creativity is uour own the lynchpin of marketing Suzy Bashford asks how creative marketers can drive the creative agenda in the digital age.

There is no algorithm for creativity. It can't be plotted via a formula on Excel. Perhaps for these reasons, creativity is at risk of being overshadowed by the comfort and certainty of hard, big data. But the tide is turning, with a growing number of marketers redressing the balance between art and science, realising the real magic happens when you couple creativity with number-crunching.

Of course, some marketers - such as Phil Rumbol, the former Cadbury marketing director who commissioned the Gorilla campaign and brought back the Wispa - never lost sight of its value and feel frustrated that many brands still don't fully appreciate creativity. 'Apple and Google, two of the world's most valuable companies, got to where they are through creativity, yet it's viewed as 'kind of a bit soft'. Creativity is not a soft business skill; it's a hard skill that can transform business and we have to make time for it,' he says.

Some of the most edgy, innovative brands agree, and, through their creativity, are catching consumers' attention, despite content-overload. Paddy Power, for example, strives to push its ideas right to the edge, because that's where it believes competitive advantage lies. 'We have a lot of creative freedom to be close to the line. Sometimes we don't go close enough and sometimes we go over it, but if you don't know where the line is, you're not even going to get near it,' says Paul Mallon, head of digital engagement at Paddy Power. 'In social advertising there is such a rush to the 'middle', to the 'vanilla', so there's a great opportunity for brands like Paddy Power to go to the edges and to appeal to the silent majority on social media such as Twitter.'

Culture clash

The idea that creative agencies have ownership of creativity is a notion that now exists only in the fantasy realms of Mad Men. Matt Barwell, chief marketing officer at Britvic, remembers a time when he was told by an agency account manager that he should just worry about selling the product and leave them to do the advertising. 'Clearly those days have changed,' he says. 'Everyone involved in marketing has a creative role to play. We have taken a lot of action to ensure that we are nurturing creativity internally and with our agencies, and have done things such as bring in creative leadership company Upping Your Elvis.

'Of course, the great creative thinkers who bring true disruptive thinking often sit outside of client structures, and accessing their brilliance is key. But it is not and cannot be about 'ownership', because creativity is not a possession.'

The issuing of a brief is no longer the signal to 'be creative now' either. Progressive marketers work with their agencies continually to explore big questions, in anticipation of homing in on a particular task. 'The best ideas have come from teams where we have discussed problems, ambitions and challenges before the brief has been written,' says Emma Colthorpe, head of marketing, fashion and beauty at John Lewis.

Nick Jones, head of digital and corporate social responsibility at Visa Europe, adds that briefing an agency is 'not about writing a brief and shoving it over the fence and then waiting for the pitch'. He continues: 'More often it's the shaping of the problem together that leads to the creative insight; it's a much more (collaborative) environment.'

Nailing a good brief is an art form in itself. It takes huge skill to write one that is open enough to inspire and liberate, yet tight enough to keep to the objective and focus minds. According to some marketing folklore, the crazier, more 'way out' the brief, the more creative the work. Falling into this category is the tale of Paddy Power's legendary two-word brief: 'Scare us. …

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