The best advertising has humans and machines working in harmony

Creativity has always been under threat. In our digital world, that threat is more overt: data is the wolf at the door and creativity is being torn apart. The answer is for the two to work together – creativity and delivery, creative people and the data. That’s where the power to motivate lies.

We think of design and technology as being complementary approaches when it comes to engineering. Tesla, for instance, is the ultimate combination of the two. So why in our world are they often pitched as enemies?

An over-reliance on data is not a weakness unless it creates too much automation. Data enables understanding and that leads to stronger brand-consumer relationships, which leads to a firmer foundation for smarter creativity. The two do not supplant one another, they’re not enemies.

An over-reliance on data is not a weakness unless it creates too much automation

The pendulum has begun to swing because the data we have is increasingly more holistic. It’s no longer simply about targeting. Where’s the need for creative persuasion, goes the argument, if the knowledge already exists? Repetition and boredom are the inevitable consequences … as is ad-blocking.

Creative people insist it’s all about the idea while data-acolytes say forget the idea, we can target by mood, lifestyle and behaviour. The further away these two camps gravitate from the centre-line, the less effective the advertising. The best meets in the middle, recognising that duality.

High-street fashion chain Uniqlo demonstrated this perfectly. It ran an advertising campaign asking users to nominate which of dozens of its items should be reduced in price. The one that Twitter users most nominated would win. As the multiplier went into overdrive, the creatives slapped themselves on the back while the data teams salivated at the sharing capacity of the online world. Both agendas relied on and fuelled each other.

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