Imagination opens innovation lab to foster technology-led creative thinking

Creative agency's MD highlight's technology rising role in customer engagement

Inside the Innovation Lab
Inside the Innovation Lab

Creative agency, Imagination, has opened an innovation lab in Sydney aimed at educating brands and marketers on better utilising emerging and digital technologies for customer engagement.

The Australian lab is part of a global program and comes a month after Imagination launched a centre in London. Clients are being invited to interact with a host of creative technology solutions that bridge the digital-physical gap and encourage interaction, including gesture control, user interface testing and remote monitoring, virtual and augmented reality, touchscreen surfaces, 3D printing, drones and data-driven apps.

Imagination managing director, Anthony Gowthorp, told CMO technology and digital are now core creative tools in how brands fulfil the experience demands of their customers. The lab is about providing a space to collaborate with clients and partners on solving business problems, fast prototyping and technology-led solutions, all with a focus on seamless experience for customer, he said.

Imagination has also been behind the launch of innovation centres for brands such as Commonwealth Bank, GE, 3M, Jaguar and Land Rover.

“We feel that we have an obligation to educate,” Gowthorp said. “Imagination Innovation Lab is a technology suite for clients to find out what they are getting into and using. We see technology as a disrupting media to grow the brand.”

But you can’t just buy technology as a ‘product off the shelf’, you need to use technology as an engagement and business mechanism, Gowthorp claimed. He also stressed the importance of viewing technology as part of an authentic brand engagement and experience, rather than as a gimmick.

“We need to connect with them as human beings,” he said. “We’re working from an experience point of view with brands and marketers on that question of touching the customer: What does that experience look like?"

According to Gowthorp, the biggest challenge Imagination faces in delivering technology-led creative is not the technology, but the marketers themselves. With so many channels at their disposal and options for investment, he predicted spend on these sorts of technology experiences would come from existing media budgets.

But it’s the mindshift away from campaign and tactical focus to strategic customer engagement that’s really going to make the difference, and Gowthorp threw down the gauntlet to CMOs to shake things up.

“The big challenge for marketers is they have to take a risk. You can’t pitch this stuff out or just send a brief to an agency – you have to take a leap of faith and immerse yourself in order to come up with solutions,” Gowthorp said. “The biggest threat is the marketers we deal with – they have to see the potential, understand where these technologies can take them and embrace them.

“This means CMOs need to start to change their relationship with agencies.”

Gowthorp claimed he’s already seeing some shift, and noted Imagination’s work with Telstra as one of seven strategic partners. One recent effort was around the telco’s Customer Insight Centres in Sydney and Melbourne, which are about showcasing offerings more interactively to business customers.

“We’re being briefed on problems by these clients, not on tactical delivery,” he said.

Imagination’s not the first to point to the changing nature of agency-brand engagement. At this year’s AANA Reset conference, Mars global CMO, Bruce McColl, called on brand owners to stop using fear and price as the basis for agency engagement and put more emphasis on creativity, collaboration and curiosity as the cornerstones of relationships.

Imagination’s innovation lab also reflects the changing skillsets being brought on by Imagination. To support it, the agency is hiring more technical directors and developers, along with strategists who can better interact with clients around problem solving, Gowthorp said.

“We are investing in people that can interact with our clients as partners, be entrepreneurial and help with problem solving,” he said. Content also goes hand-in-hand with technology, and Imagination has also increased its investment in these skillsets.

Imagination’s heritage is in experiential activities and trade show work, all experiences occurring in physical places. Gowthorp said the agency an emerging customer group is retailers looking to improve the customer’s experience at the physical point of purchase.

As an example, he pointed to the agency’s work with one automotive brand in China, Lincoln, to build digitally led virtual experiences in mid-city spaces in order to improve the level of engagement prospective customers can have with their cars in the absence of showrooms.

Read more:

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Social purpose: Oxygen for your brand health vitals

If trust is the new currency, then we’re in deep trouble. Here's why.

Carolyn Butler-Madden

Founder and CEO, Sunday Lunch

Customer experience disruption: Healthcare faces a bitter pill

Over the past decade, disruptors such as Amazon, Apple and Australia’s Atlassian have delivered technology enhanced customer experiences, which for the most part, have improved customers’ lives and delivered unparalleled growth. Can they do the same for healthcare?

Alex Allwood

Principal, All Work Together

How can a brand remain human in a digital world?

Some commentators estimate that by 2020, 85 per cent of buyer-seller interactions will happen online through social media and video*. That’s only two years away, and pertinent for any marketer.

James Kyd

Global head of brand strategy and marketing, Xero

https://bit.ly/2qLgzmR Transform your life a proven digital blueprint

Okitoi Steven

How this banking group tackled a digital marketing transformation

Read more

Its great to hear that companies including JCDecaux, oOh!media, Omnicom and Posterscope Australia have all partnered with Seedooh inorder...

Blue Mushroom Infozone Pvt Ltd

Out of home advertising companies strive for greater metrics and transparency

Read more

Much ado about nothingAnother fluff piece around what it could possibly do rather than what it is doing

gve

How AMP is using AI to create effortless ‘experiences’

Read more

is it true that Consumer expectations are also changing as a result. If we trust someone with our data there is also an expectation that ...

Sunita Madan

Society will decide where digital marketing takes us next: Oracle

Read more

This Blog is Very interesting to read and thank you for sharing the valuable information about Machine Learning. The information you prov...

johny blaze

What machine learning has done for the Virgin Velocity program

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in