With the advent and rise of the digital medium there seems to be two broad sentiments across creative agencies. One of the being how stubborn creative was, is and will always be very important and hence we will keep operating the way we have been. Second, which seems to be the bigger set, is that it’s time for a complete rehaul.
Personally, I don’t think the second reaction is completely unfounded as there is a need to re-invent but not everything that we have been doing will be irrelevant. Infact whatever the medium, the brand core and language will be a key part of communication now and forever, what we will have to learn is to ensure that when we translate that into the final message for a new age medium like digital effectively.
There are some basic principles of brand building which were and will always be relevant. And when one sees a medium becoming bigger, the need to anchor the brand core is even more important as there is every chance of one getting swayed by a new emerging medium and in all the excitement compromise on the core itself. To be honest we are seeing a lot of it recently and the reason for this is that the starting point in such cases is either the medium (let’s create something viral on digital) or technology (we need to connect with youth and youth connect with technology, let’s just use it). Nothing against both the medium and technology, but the starting point has to be the brand itself and if we ensure that is followed then with the right use of medium/ tech should lead to exponential gains for the brand. And if we don’t, it will largely be a ‘flash in the pan’ activity which people might go wow about but will surely not help the brand.
So, what stays and what goes?
The digital medium and technology does have the strength to throw up data, but the data in itself does not mean anything. The magic lies in the way it is interpreted and analysed in conjunction with real consumer insights gathered from actual human interactions; this is something no algorithm can pull off.
At the same time data is predictive. It catches and predicts behavioural patterns. It can be used to enrich our understanding of the consumer but to follow it blindly would mean giving the consumer more of what he already has and does. What a smart creative mind can do here is take this enriched understanding and create something that the consumer did not even know he was looking for, thus breaking his pattern and delighting him.
As we move along, we will still need to search for relevant insights, it’s just that it might not always be primary research that will direct us to it. It could very well be social listening or a data crunching model that may unearth something interesting. We still have to create work that the consumer relates to, it’s just that he/she might not see it in a living room. We may not look at ad performance any more as a measure of effectiveness, rather we would look at whether it has moved people to move the business. Things around us are changing and so is the nomenclature but if we really dig deeper the logic and the broad process remains the same, what we call it and how we achieve it might have changed.
Personally, while the uncertainty of the ever-evolving medium called digital is sometimes unnerving, it is also very exciting at the same time. Advertising agencies have always found their place as marketing partners to their clients and have been saddled with marketing goals. Now at a time when the role of advertising in driving business is under speculation., there is a real opportunity to bring the power of data enriched strategic and creative thinking to achieving business goals and take up the role of business partners to clients.
Currently I feel like a baby who loves cars and now he has a car that can start flying with the touch of a button, but my knowledge of handling it through the remote is still needed to operate it.
In today’s day and age of integration the brands still require a central agency to lead this process and by virtue of being the one that defines the brand it should very well rest with the creative agency. The right to refusal is ours, it’s up to us to take it or leave it.