Time For Creatives To Stop Reminiscing And Accept Data Is King

Has London really lost its creativity? Are agencies really out there just keeping clients happy -- and does that really stifle creativity? More to the point, is keeping clients happy not what it's all about?

To listen to views bandied around London, particularly among senior guys behind creative agencies that are typically known for a couple of great ideas back in the '90s, you would be forgiven for thinking that the capital is washed up. However, take a look at the Commercial of the Year in last night's British Arrows and the Best New Team award and you have to say they both show creativity. A guy requiring an emergency marmite delivery and an ogre who turns back into Simon on holiday may not win the actors Oscars, but they are clearly very effective ideas. 

Maybe that's the point now. Advertising has moved on, even for the creative gurus who have switched from envisaging new campaigns to adding their initials to ever-lengthening company names. 

The thing is -- we're in the digital age and data is king. Creative people will always rely on opinion and will typically tell someone they're wrong if they don't see the genius in their idea. Where marketing and advertising collide online, of course, there are very simple metrics which tell you if something is performing. So it's no wonder that sitting back and saying a guy taking off his jeans in a launderette to a Marvin Gaye tune is a great idea, which it was -- today advertisers want metrics and not just a pat on the back.

That's not to say that there isn't a place for creativity and experimentation -- of course there is. But creatives need to reconcile their talents with the data that will ultimately tell whether an advertiser is happy or not. So it's no wonder that there is a move to "safer" adverts that convey a message. Let's not forget we're now in a multichannel world where spots are becoming available to brands who just want to make an announcement, even if it is sadly all too often an offer to lend you money before payday or sue someone for a slip or a trip.

There is a lot of dross out there, but that's what it's intended to be. Nobody's going to win advertiser of the year for a furniture sale advert, but there are plenty of brands where creativity can be harnessed.

But -- and it's a big but -- everything is measurable today, and if you were the advertiser, what would you prefer? To report to your Chairman that people liked the tv ad, because it looked amazing, or a spot that drove sales, as clearly demonstrated by the search spike which coincided with an on screen prompt to search for "brand x." Of those who searched, x% engaged with us and a further x% place orders?

Opinion is not all now. Data is king, and it doesn't lie.

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