Commentary

Technology Is the New Creativity

Coming off of yet another Cannes Lions Festival I didn't go to, and another OMMA Social that I did -- events that, for me, were interspersed with dozens of tweets sent and received, blog posts posted and consumed and apps perused -- it's becoming clearer and clearer how far we've left behind the world of tag lines and print ads and big-budget commercials and emerged into a new era, in which technology has become the new creativity.

 

I was most recently reminded of this last night, when my pal @reelspit posted a link on Twitter to Wieden + Kennedy's new Platform, a sort of pop-up agency, based in London, that will exist from six to nine months, depending, composed of 12 recruits. Platform is:

  • "A research lab, exploring what makes people tick and packaging this in new and fresh ways."
  • "A workshop, a place to build, shoot, prototype, render and mix, a place to think with your hands as well as your head."
  • "A physical destination, a venue to showcase new talent from all walks of life."
  • "A virtual space, an open source space, where we can invite everyone to challenge or champion our creativity."

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Just the fact that this language borrows so heavily from the tech world tells you something: that the tools that have been used to make advertising creative -- and, indeed, all kinds of creative -- increasingly have second-class status. It's as though we've been obsessed with what colors to paint the house when what really matters is how the house is built -- that's where the creativity lies.

You can also look at Cannes winners and see this principle at work again. What kinds of things won? An online-only Philips film that relies not just on special effects, but interactivity, to execute the idea to its fullest; the election campaign of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, fueled by technologies like Twitter to make its ideas and fundraising messages come alive; an app by AKQA from Fiat to help drivers see how environmentally friendly their driving habits are. You get the drift. The communications messages ride on top of the technologies, without which they would be impossible to execute.

While this isn't expressly a social media phenomenon, social media is deeply embedded within it. The open source movement, grasped by major social media players like Twitter and Facebook, has really taken hold in the social age. Not only have Twitter and Facebook made for more ways to discuss and share ideas, but they expose more people, particularly communications professionals, to the power of those ideas. Open source has been around for a long time, but most of the people I hang out with professionally have about as much interest in Linux as they do in Linus.

But seeing something like Twitter in action -- not to mention all of the apps built on top of the basic product -- and you begin to realize how creative these technologies are. Just when you think all of the ways to communicate have been invented, some great creative mind thinks up another one: a way for people to communicate with each other in large groups, creating the biggest conversation of all time. While more and more companies are finding interesting ways to use Twitter, the most essential piece of creative is the application itself.

In conclusion, if you want to make great creative, think about technology.

8 comments about "Technology Is the New Creativity ".
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  1. Elle Mac from Not Applicable, July 1, 2009 at 5:16 p.m.

    Isnt taking creativity and putting it into the "technology" box committing the same error as believing creativity belonged in the "TV" box. At it's core, creativity is about not being confined to a box. But looking around for all available tools, new, old, emerging or yet to be discovered--and saying what's the most effective way to get this message across in an engaging way.

  2. Rick Lavoie from RUCKUS, July 1, 2009 at 5:18 p.m.

    Catharine,

    Great observation. This is a big part of social. Traditional was all about the creative, web 3.0 is less about creative and all about many other things like consumer empowerment, being where they are, making them feel their in control.

  3. Howard Zoss from Zig Marketing, July 1, 2009 at 7:34 p.m.

    this is framed so poorly ... the construct of either/or is old ... it has become a world of ands ... creativity is a human expression ... technology merely the tool (and there are some excellent ones mentioned in the article) ... but to think that technology is the new creativity is fighting the same old traditional vs. digital battle for the millionth time

    how about this for creativity ... combine experience with new thinking and new tools to find the most effective way to 'sell something'

  4. Roy Moskowitz from Reciprocal Results, July 2, 2009 at 5:20 a.m.


    Twitter apps and interactivity are undeserving of praise. I finally gave in and joined Twitter last week and vainly tried to install the Twitter Facebook app. Evidently the popular official Facebook Twitter app isn't allowing new installations and hasn't for some time.

    I've complained through both official and unofficial channels without any luck. A blog picked up my and other's ubiquitous complaints about this

    http://shortformblog.com/tech/yo-twitter-facebook-what-the-f-is-session-test.

    According to the blog, both companies were unaware of the problem before the blogger contacted Facebook VP of Communications Elliot Schrage (who said it's Facebook issue) and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said he'd look into it. If either company gave users the opportunity for non-automated interaction (I know they're free, but they will never make money without us users if we leave because of customer non-service) this probably would have been solved.

    Google has the same customer non-service issue. The easiest way for Bing to eat up some of Google's Market Share would be to implement some type of non automated feedback system, that gets read by an actual non outsourced human, who will respond quickly and specifically.

    Ironically both Schrage and Stone are Google alum.

  5. Marvin Clonkey from Marvin Clonkey Industries, July 2, 2009 at 2:32 p.m.

    Certainly technology facilitates expression. But expression does not guarantee creativity.

    A bad twitter post is a bad radio ad is a bad newspaper ad is a bad FB update.

    A bad idea (that is, an uncreative idea) will always be bad in any medium.

  6. Michael Smith from State Bar of Michigan, July 2, 2009 at 2:40 p.m.

    I'm an old stick in the mud, nearly sixty that is, and I remember those Popular Science magazines I read way back in my junior high school days. They said then that by now we'd all be zipping to work in our personal helicopters, and that atomic energy would be the ultimate source of cheap, clean power for all. Hmmm. Didn't quite work out like that did it.

    Technology begets of creative thinking, but it doesn't do the thinking or the creating. People do that. And sometimes that creativity has negative outcomes.

  7. Jessica Brown from Mindshare, July 2, 2009 at 3:20 p.m.

    Great thought starter, but I have to disagree with the article and agree with most of the comments here. Technology gives us new platforms to extend our creativity, but the technology is not actually the creative.

    With all of these new platforms we are able to find the most appropriate environment for consumer touch points, but the creative still needs to be relevant in order for consumers to engage.

    We can all create a facebook page or a twitter profile for our clients - the key is to get our consumers to engage with these touch points which is where the creativity comes in.

  8. Cathy Taylor from MediaPost, July 2, 2009 at 10:58 p.m.

    Hi gang,

    Thanks for the comments. Let me re-articulate what I mean about technology being the new creative. I'm not suggesting that a bunch of bots are the new creative. What I am suggesting is that the ability to think of new ways to use technology is the new creative. That takes humans.

    When you think of all the ways that people were already able to communicate before there was social networking, and then someone comes along and invents an FB, or a MySpace, or a Twitter that is INTENSELY creative, even if takes a lot of coding to make those ideas become reality. What most of us do is create upon platforms, thinking that "communication", in all its forms, had been already invented.
    The communications and marketing ideas that come out of the existence of these technological platforms can be wonderfully creative, but they are not, I argue, as creative as the creation of the platform itself.

    Thanks.

    Cathy

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