The creativity at the end of the rainbow

When the dust settles on all the current activity around technology and data, what will be left? Creativity is the answer. But let us wind back 
a little.

Ashley Friedlein

Creativity is one of the core elements of our Modern Marketing Manifesto. It says “we believe we need creativity just as much as we need technology”. However, most of the energy and activity currently is directed towards data and technology.

At a recent conference, WPP Digital chief executive officer Mark Read described WPP as a “data, marketing and technology company”. No mention of agency, no mention of media or creative. Indeed, WPP recently acquired Salmon, which specialises in ecommerce technology and related services.

Large digital agencies likewise are snapping up companies with capabilities around data 
and technology. LBi acquired web analytics specialists OX2 a few years ago and more recently it bought Sceneric, an ecommerce specialist. PwC purchased digital analytics specialist Logan Tod last year.

Econsultancy recently polled our subscribers to find out which digital jobs are most in demand. When asked the role people would most like to recruit for in their teams, data and analytics roles are most in demand (16 per cent) followed by content specialists (14 per cent).

Marketing Week’s 2013 salary survey also shows that 
those with specialist skills around data and insight were least likely to be facing squeezes 
on salary.

So where is creativity amongst all of this? 

As part of Econsultancy’s recent Integrated Marketing Week event in New York we surveyed more than 1,000 marketers around the world.

We wanted to find out how successful these marketers felt they were in integrating online and offline marketing to deliver the joined up (seamless, multichannel or omnichannel) customer experience we all talk about.

There are three notable findings. Firstly, those organisations that had fewer issues with internal politics and managed to operate without silos, are much further down the journey towards integrated marketing enlightenment. No real surprise there except that it reinforces the point that unless you get the structure, processes and culture right then you are doomed to fail.

Secondly, the most sophisticated organisations are good with technology. Again, no surprise, and this is why all the agencies and consultancies are piling into the marketing technology space.

The third point is perhaps most interesting. When asked to rank seven criteria for integrated marketing success, those less advanced organisations put creativity as fifth, so low down their list. But for the sophisticated players creativity jumped to second place.

Econsultancy has just published the Top 100 Digital Agencies guide. Deloitte Digital rank seventh.

Deloitte a digital agency? The same Deloitte 
that acquired an innovative mobile agency, Übermind, in the US last year. The same 
Deloitte that sponsored the D&AD awards. 
D&AD that claims “all creative life is here”.

Agencies that used to champion ideas and creativity now seem to be chasing data and 
technology while management consultancies 
and systems integrators are becoming agencies with creative credentials.

What is going on? 
I believe many of us are currently busy trying to sort out our marketing technology, our data, our digital capability in terms of people, skills, processes and culture.

But once we’ve done that, once we are successfully fracking our data, once the tech dust has settled, what then? We will be looking for creativity at the end of the rainbow. The smartest marketers already know this.

On 10 October this year, we will be running an event called Punch, curated by Econsultancy and Marketing Week sister brand Creative Review and we will be discussing these topics.

We hope to see you there to join the debate.

Econsultancy is a sister brand 
of Marketing Week