Digital’s Biggest Creative Quest

First things first…We are in the business of providing creative solutions to business challenges.

In agency-land our objective is effectiveness; our strategy is creativity.

Work that doesn’t positively impact on a client’s P&L isn’t great work. It might be fabulous art but it’s not great work.

The communications industry seems to be fixated (when considering digital) with the potential efficiencies and measurability of digital and interactive media but, often at the expense of creative opportunities.

The ‘talk of the town’ is driving costs down by limiting wastage, or improving efficiency, and less often about increasing engagement, forging deeper links with consumers over time, storytelling across touchpoints.

Digital work can be more accountable than much of the work produced for the offline world, and sometimes that accountability can cover what is actually remarkably (creatively) underwhelming work.

Old-world agencies are, in particular, often in the position of knowing that they need to produce both more effective and more emotive digital work, but not knowing how to develop it. 

We need to stop looking at digital creativity as somehow different and divorced from the other channels that a brand uses to engage customers.

Often digital agencies and their skills are involved way too late to give them the best chance of producing greatness, because interactivity is something that needs to run seamlessly through campaigns like a strand of DNA, not a module that can bolted on to something that’s already been created and often already executed.

To a certain extent this is a structural issue to do with different agencies working together, often a ‘prickly’ area clouded by egos and budget silos. Partly it’s an attitudinal issue, with agencies sometimes wary of involving anyone else (including their sister agencies) until they are forced to. One approach to solving this disconnect is to merge the teams of different people and skills currently charged with separately producing on and offline.

There needs to be an improvement in creative collaboration, perhaps through the deliberate creation of what ex-MIT organisational consultant Warren Bennis refers to as ‘great groups’ – handpicked teams of people gathered by a visionary leader to produce exceptional results in the creative or innovation fields.

This is the digital creative sweet spot…

Teams populated with talented people who can and want to work together and who frequently believe they’re on some kind of ‘mission’.  They are optimistic, not realistic. They bury their differences for the greater good of the client objective.

In a parallel vein, we don’t always build the right types of skill sets and backgrounds into the teams that do develop the creative work.  The current global squeeze has meant that agency teams are not in balance (see: ).

The whole configuration of account and creative teams needs to change, with the introduction of technologists and engagement thinkers as central contributors to creativity at the very earliest stages of the development process. They must be used as architects, helping provide some of the art and magic, not just resolving the issues around execution.

Together, the ambition of these hybrid teams should be to engage the hearts and minds of the people they are talking to with content, tools and experiences that move them to do something, to think something, to feel something.

Too often there’s a gap between technical knowledge and geeky creativity on one hand, and marketing know-how and strategic savviness on the other. Too often half the smart people – the digital artists, geeks and information designers for example – aren’t talking or spending enough time with the other smart people. We need to bridge that gap…


~ by rtymerej on April 11, 2010.

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