Shakespeare shows data and creativity aren’t Montagues and Capulets

Jason Dooris

Jason Dooris is the CEO and founder of growing Atomic 212, Australia's fastest growing media and marketing agency on the BRW 2014 list. Over the past 20 years, Jason has held a variety of senior local and global industry positions including CEO MediaCom UK, deputy CEO MediaCom Europe, GM Saatchi & Saatchi NZ, GM Ogilvy & Mather Australia, GM Dentsu Aegis Australia and consulting practice director, Deloitte Asia. His vertical experience covers most categories with a particular focus on retail, automotive and FMCG.

Perhaps the biggest indication yet that data and creativity have now become inexplicably bound was revealed in October, when the Oxford University Press announced plans to re-release Henry VI, Parts One, Two and Three with William Shakespeare credited as co-author.

Following centuries of speculation, Shakespeare’s contemporary, Christopher Marlowe, will appear on the title page as co-author of the three Henry plays, more than 400 years after it was first performed and published.

It had long been speculated that Marlowe had worked on the trilogy, but data has finally – and, the Oxford University Press say, definitively – proven it.

A team of 23 academics from five countries used databases of plays written by Shakespeare, Marlowe and a host of their Elizabethan contemporaries to search for distinct words and phrases to reach their conclusion.

"Shakespeare has entered the world of Big Data and there are certain questions that we are now able to answer more confidently that people have been asking for a very long time," Gary Taylor, one of the project's senior editors, told Reuters. “There are parts that are very clearly by Shakespeare and there are parts that are very clearly by Marlowe."

The mere suggestion that big data be applied to analyse Shakespeare’s work would have had many up in arms only a few short years ago. Indeed, the whole ‘rip out that page’ scene in Dead Poets Society comes about because the textbook they’re reading from makes a statistical analysis of a Shakespearean sonnet, leading Robin Williams’ character to declare: “We're not laying pipe, we're talking about poetry.”

But while appreciating any art is about far more than just assigning it a ‘mark’, this project once again shows creativity and data really do go hand-in-hand.

In many ways, it’s the ultimate collaboration, finding a means to bring two seemingly disparate fields together. Yet many of the best, most creative ad campaigns we’ve seen over the past few years have been the result of combining ‘left side’ brain thinkers with ‘right side’.

Take, for example, the US motel chain, Red Roof Inn. In 2014, in the midst of a historically harsh winter, Red Roof used data to target cancelled flights and turn stranded passengers into customers.

They followed this up with the ‘Converting Brake Lights into Rested Nights’ campaign, where they were able to target their paid search dollars toward people who had been stuck in traffic for hours and likely needed a break from the road.

It’s a marriage of letters and numbers that would make Richard Morecroft proud.

Happily, this mix of data and creativity is a reality that we as an industry are embracing.

Adobe’s 2015 Digital Roadblock Report, which surveyed more than 1000 marketers across Europe, found that 60 per cent agree capturing and applying data to inform and drive marketing activities is the new reality. In addition, 59 per cent agree data (metrics from digital ads, campaigns, website, and so on) are informative in evolving their company’s marketing creative.

So what’s this got to do with Shakespeare?

There is a long-held belief that Shakespeare and Marlowe were more than just contemporaries, they were in fact rivals. But far from robbing The Bard of his genius, by acknowledging Marlowe’s efforts on the three plays, Oxford University Press’ new publications highlight the importance of collaboration.

“It's possible they loved each other, it's possible they hated each other. We have no way of knowing," Taylor said of the two Elizabethan literary titans.

"Rivals can collaborate."

Whether they were friends or enemies, for Shakespeare and Marlowe to work together on three plays would have required their egos to have been set aside and for a hefty amount of compromise.

In the same sense, while we wouldn’t quite describe data and creativity as Montagues and Capulets, they have long been held as completely foreign to one another. It is this sense of estrangement that can make it difficult to bring the two together successfully.

The key is admitting you don’t have all the answers, and then finding the middle ground.

If a bunch of Shakespearean academics can do it, by bringing data analysis into their work, and Shakespeare himself did it, by collaborating with Marlowe, then surely it’s worth pursuing in your own work.

Tags: data-driven marketing, data anlaytics

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

State of the CMO 2019

CMO’s State of the CMO is an annual industry research initiative aimed at understanding how ...

More whitepapers

Blog Posts

Building a human-curated brand

If the FANG (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) sector and their measured worth are the final argument for the successful 21st Century model, then they are beyond reproach. Fine-tuning masses of algorithms to reduce human touchpoints and deliver wild returns to investors—all with workforces infinitesimally small compared to the giants of the 20th Century—has been proven out.

Will Smith

Co-founder and head of new markets, The Plum Guide

Sustainability trends brands can expect in 2020

​Marketers have made strides this year in sustainability with the number of brands rallying behind the Not Business As Usual alliance for action against climate change being a sign of the times. While sustainability efforts have gained momentum this year, 2020 is shaping up to be the year brands are really held accountable for their work in this area.

Ben King

CSR manager & sustainability expert, Finder

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing

As a Marketer, the ‘Scotty from Marketing’ meme troubles me.

Natalie Robinson

Director of marketing and communications, Melbourne Polytechnic

If you think it can benefit both consumer and seller then it would be great

Simon Bird

Why Ford is counting on the Internet of Things to drive customer engagement

Read more

It's a good idea. Customers really should control their data. Now I understand why it's important.

Elvin Huntsberry

Salesforce CMO: Modern marketers have an obligation to give customers control of their data

Read more

Instagram changes algorithms every time you get used to them. It really pisses me off. What else pisses me off? The fact that Instagram d...

Nickwood

Instagram loses the like in Australia; industry reacts positively

Read more

I tried www.analisa.io to see my Instagram Insight

Dina Rahmawati

7 marketing technology predictions for 2016

Read more

The saying is pretty tongue in cheek. It's not saying that marketers are bad people, nor that they don't take themselves seriously. There...

LYF Solutions

The trouble with Scotty from Marketing - The CMO view - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in