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How to combine data and creativity


April 20, 2020 By Andreas Monberg, Business Director, dentsu X Sweden

Given the world’s past situation with COVID-19 and the impact it had on the marketing and advertising industry, all of us are under unprecedented pressure - clients, agencies and publishers.

At the same time, our industry is facing another crisis: the decline of creativity and creative effectiveness.

Post COVID-19 creativity crisis

We find ourselves standing in the middle of two existential crises, for which one of them is our own fault. In the past decades we have seen technological advances reshaping our media landscape, providing us with endless options for targeting and tracking. But it seems we never paused to ask if it’s providing better experiences for people.

Peter Field and the IPA conducted a study revealing a steady decline of creativity over the last decade due to an over-reliance on short term sales activation. Additionally, Orlando Wood’s study, using a mix of neuroscience, cultural history and advertising research, shows how an increase in abstract, left-brain thinking has spread across business and popular culture and how this is undermining creativity and making advertising less effective.

Perhaps now it is time to pause, think and act. Because in the light of COVID-19, we are starting to realize we need to rethink our approach to advertising. And thus, our approach to data and creativity. For too long we have utilized data to focus on creative fortune, on people and media behavior, rather than using data to spark creative solutions on a grander scale. We tried to be relevant for too few, then resonate with many.

5 proven ways of using data and creativity

We have a genuine opportunity to leave old disputes behind. Gone should be the days where data is seen as the enemy of creativity, as a barrier to human instincts and motivations. Let’s start reframing the discourse into something positive.

There is a myriad of fantastic examples of how you can combine data and creativity for maximum effect:

1. Spotify – Thanks 2016, it’s been weird

Spotify has become famous for their distinct way of incorporating their data into campaigns. The 2016 campaign “Thanks 2016, it's been weird”, used quirky, amusing, hyper-localized facts and figures from its own data to create out-of-home ads across various markets.

Also, every year they provide each user Wrapped - giving fans an insight into their listening history from the last year. This is collected on both global and regional level, providing fantastic insights into listening, tastes and behaviors.

2. British Airways -  Look Up

British Airways Look Up campaign used digital billboards in key London locations to encourage viewers to look up and spot the aircraft flying overhead. A live data feed was used to identify the specific BA airplanes that were flying over the billboard. It was a simple, yet effective, way to use data to power creative.

3. Danbolig – Our Neighborhoods

When people buy a new home, they are not only buying bricks with a roof, they are also buying into a new neighborhood. This prompted, Danish home estate broker Danbolig to create a digital solution called Our Neighbourhoods. It uses data about the special features of neighborhoods and user-generated content to turn local insight into national knowledge, enabling better informed decisions for buying homes.

4. Telia – Mobile data to fight spread of COVID-19

With the COVID-19 crisis, the need for creativity and data has never been more urgent. An example of this is in Sweden. The country’s largest telecom operator, Telia is supporting the health agency Folkhälsomyndigheten with mapping the mobility and travel patterns of people. This will unlock important insights to help mitigate the spread of virus and grant the government a solid foundation for possible actions to be instilled if needed. It’s a perfect example of how harnessing the power of technology can help a safe return to everyday life.

Source: Folkhälsomyndigheten, Telia

5. Apple & Google – Working together to trace the spread of coronavirus

Similarly, Apple and Google both recently released mobility reports from their MAP solutions to uncover how the change in volume of people driving, walking or using public transportation, all for the assistance of mitigating the spread of the virus.

Additionally, the two dominant companies are working together to provide governments and health agencies with contact tracing using a variety of the two’s capabilities and products. 

Data and creativity work hand in hand, and there is definitely room for designing solutions that enable experiences for people, whether in marketing, advertising or services. It’s just up for us to realize it.