Four ways that technology influences creativity

The changing role that technology can play in the creative and marketing world was a major theme at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. Data, social media and mobile platforms are all opening up creative opportunities for marketers and their agency partners that simply haven’t existed in the past, it was argued.

Coca Cola Facebook

Senior marketers from Heineken, Coca-Cola, Unilever and Diageo are embracing technology as an enabler of creativity and as a way to give meaning to brands beyond products.

According to Heineken’s global brand director Cyril Charzat, creativity becomes “endless” when brands can start to use technology in ways that are relevant both for the brand and for consumers.

Below are four areas discussed at Cannes where technology can influence creativity in marketing.

Bringing experiential and digital together

If a brand wants to use technology in a creative way, marketers must start thinking about how the technology platform exists as a part of consumers’ lives to go beyond products and instead offer consumers relevant tools and services.

Heineken says the next creative challenge it faces is how to bring experiential together with digital platforms in a seamless way. Charzat believes that mobile is the perfect platform to put a brand’s creative idea into consumers’ daily lives.

He says: “It’s good to start with a big theme, but then you need to make it even more interesting by integrating it into the daily life of consumers through digital. Through digital and mobile, we have the opportunity to give meaning to our brand idea. If we can do something with mobile that puts us at the heart of consumers’ conversations, it’s a space to further build our brand by providing a service through entertainment or content.”

Get closer to tech start-ups

To be at the forefront of what new technologies enable brands to do creatively, major companies such as Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Diageo, have recognised the importance of working with start-ups in the digital space and being in tune with Silicon Valley firms to really understand the opportunities that new tech developments offer.

Working with startups means that established brands and companies can benefit from the kinds of cultures that thrive on entrepreneurship and use it as inspiration for their own marketers, they argue.

Every year Diageo’s senior team spends time in California meeting companies developing new technologies, and all its marketers have ‘deep immersive’ training with Facebook.

Matt Barwell, Diageo Western Europe consumer marketing and innovation director, says: “We want to be delivering breakthrough work and so we’re experimenting in new areas of technology, but what’s interesting is to see the pace of change at digital firms like Facebook, Google and smaller start-ups in mobile. Being in Silicon Valley we’re able to understand some of these areas of innovation.”

Don’t obsess over measurement

There is pressure on all marketers to prove the impact of their work, but brands and marketers should not be afraid to embrace platforms that are a yet unproved through direct measurement.

Coca Cola’s CMO Joseph Tripodi urged brands to “take a leap of faith” when developing creative ideas on social platforms. He says that although there is no concrete measurement tool for social media’s impact, the opportunity to use them for “creative advantage” is more important than measuring it.

His point was echoed by Charzat, who said that brands should be “relaxed” about measurement and focus on being “inventive and creative” with new technologies.

Unilever’s senior vice-president of marketing Marc Mathieu says that using social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is right for brands in the same way that sustainability is the right thing to do.

“Intuitively, marketers should know that social is the right way to go because they’ve already gone there personally. You don’t even need to ask yourself if you should measure it. Real people are leading the change and I believe we’ll see more and more influence on what we do from platforms like Facebook.”

Data isn’t killing creativity

Despite fears that having too much information could stifle creativity, when brands focus on what that data means for brands, it is seen as a positive influence, rather than a barrier to creativity.

Unilever’s Mathieu says: “Technology becomes an enabler, not just for marketing in the traditional sense but for making lives better. It’s a fact that data is going to explode and what marketers do with that depends on their own marketing philosophy, but the way we’re working on it is looking at how to harness that data to help enhance the experience consumers have with our brands”

“The whole data conversation is going to get more and more about not just access to data, but what it means. Companies that make data easy for consumers to understand are going to do well.”

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