​ADMA: In the age of data and technology, is creativity dead?

ADMA global forum panel discussion

The role of creativity in an increasing tech and data-driven world was one of the topics discussed at the ADMA global forum last week, with the overwhelming response being that creativity and storytelling is more important than it’s even been.

In a panel session including Alexander Meyer, CMO, The Iconic; Andy Lark, CMO, Foxtel; Jamie Skella, chief product officer, Horizon State; Lisa Ronson, CMO, Tourism Australia; Tim Hodgson, chief commercial and marketing officer, Invictus Games; and Victor Milligan, CMO, Forrester, each answered the question of whether creativity is dead.

“No way is creative dead,” Ronson said. “Creative is the most important thing there is—it drives businesses forward, it drives innovation, and it engages people.

“At the end of the day, we’re human, and we want to be engaged emotionally. And when you look at the data, those organisations with the highest creativity scores delivered the most business growth and higher financial returns than those that didn’t.

“I would argue it’s more important today than it’s ever been, and if you’re not thinking creatively about connecting with consumers, your business and brand will die.”

Ronson went on the say that while data and personalisation is important, no one is going to want to get personal with a brand if they hate the brand.

“They are not going to engage. Emotional connection with brand is very important, and creativity is the way to do this,” she said.

Milligan added it’s not about creativity for the sake of it, it’s very savvy creative based on what brands know about that customer that really shines.

“The CMO now needs to lead a whole-brained organisation and must be fluent in technology and data, as well as creative. We must reclaim the mantel of storytelling—because storytelling has dropped off as a priority lately—so people feel there’s some relationship to form with you,” he said. 

Skella said technology is a product of creativity, and enables greater creativity. “It’s cyclical,” he said.

Meyer agreed, adding he saw convenience being commoditised as a result of technology.

“The brand purpose, the power of brand, and the power storytelling, will be the key differentiator for the business. We need to work out how can we meaningful in a space that is transactional, how can we go up in the funnel and go beyond the sell.”

Ronson concluded by saying marketers sometimes run too fast at shiny new technology.

“We get too distracted with AI and AR and VR. Use the data to understand who your customer is, what their barriers are, and how to connect with them. Go back to the consumer always, and focus on the fundamentals of marketing, they haven’t changed, and they won’t change.”

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