Brands need to embrace ‘democratisation of creativity’ to stay relevant to consumers

Most marketing is annoying to consumers, and the old ways of creating and executing campaigns are no longer fit for purpose. Only by embracing the “democratization of creativity” can brands ensure they remain relevant to their audiences.

So was the conclusion of many speaking at the WFA Global Marketer Conference in Marrakech this week. Brand and agency leaders said in order for brands to become more relevant to consumers, they need to give up some control of their content and make experimentation and learning, rather than ideas of success or failure, the goals of innovation.

The advice from marketing leaders comes as a WFA report, released 19 March and created by We Are Social to measure consumer reactions to ads across social media, shows that one of seven of the “deadly sins of marketing” is a lack of quality in advertising, with too many ads annoying consumers with poor content.

According to the report, brands need to prioritise quality of quantity, meaningful engagement over frequency of exposure and work harder to test whether ads are engaging.

Brands need to collaborate with consumers

While discussing the brand’s consumer-focused approach to marketing, Conny Kalcher, VP of marketing and consumer experiences at Lego, said: “Consumers want to be involved. They want you to collaborate with them and they want you to take their input.”

The brand has embraced co-creation by working with their community of adult fans through an “open innovation platform” which allows consumers to design and upload ideas to potentially be made into products. The design for the company’s Minecraft Lego came from the platform.

“It gives us a chance to see what people are passionate about,” Kalcher said.

The brand also involved fan-created videos in The Lego Movie, which was released last year.

“For a fan to be able to say they were a part of creating the Lego movie was a big win for them,” she said.

“Every brand and every company can do some of this and engage their consumers to a higher degree. It’s not just something we do to make people happy, we do it because it actually makes economic sense.”

The brand has cited its consumer-focused strategy as the reason behind its successful sales turnaround over the past 10 years after profits hit an all-time low.

Letting go of control key to creating engaging content

David Alberts, chief creative officer of MoFilm, which connects a network of 60,000 filmmakers worldwide with brands, also highlighted the importance of being open to creativity and letting go of control in creating engaging content.

The company has appointed filmmakers worldwide to create viral videos for brands such as Rolo, Guinness and Unilever after being provided with a content brief, which Alberts says acts as a “catalyst” for open discussion and lets go of some of the brand’s control rather than telling the story for the filmmaker.

“The clients don’t see the scripts, and they trust the filmmakers,” Alberts said. “The ability to give up control is why they get these great films. By handing it over to authentic filmmakers, your brand will come through.”

Alberts adds that the biggest breakthrough in marketing has been what he calls the “democratisation of creativity”.

“The biggest challenge is getting brands off the drug called television and the way they used to work,” he says. “There’s a network of people every brand can tap into. It’s no longer about whether you’re creative or not creative, but whether you’re open or closed.”

Goal of innovation should be learning, not sales success

Brands also need to look at the ideal outcome of tapping into the creative efforts of consumers as experimentation and learning, rather than focus on ideas of success or failure.

Speaking at the conference, Ajaz Ahmed, CEO agency AKQA which works with clients such as Nike and the WWF, said: “The brands who endure are the ones who look at innovation as an experience with unknown outcomes and a way to get learnings. The ideas of success and failure don’t apply.”

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