'Give Us The Data And Get Out Of The Room'

Some consultants (like IBM, Accenture and Deloitte) have been making pretty aggressive bids both organically and through acquisitions to enter the ad agency space, a topic that came up more than once during sessions at Advertising Week New York last week.

At one session, creative veteran Madonna Badger was asked what advice she would give to consulting firms to nurture a creative culture. Her response: “I would say, ‘give us the data and get out of the room.’’

Say what? That sounds like something a creative person would say to a media person back in the "Mad Men" days, shortly before the start of a pitch. So much for horizontality — WPP chief Martin Sorrell’s wonky word for collaboration.

OK, to report Badger’s quote by itself is to take it a bit out of context. She did acknowledge a few minutes later she was trying to be funny — and she did get one of the few laughs from the audience with the quip.

But as she elaborated, it became clear she pretty much feels that way. “In just the same way that I wouldn’t go into their [the consultative] world and try to explain what to do, I don’t think it makes sense for them to come into the creative world and think it’s an equation that can be figured out.” 



Don’t tell Google or Amazon that.

What happened to all that seemingly sincere talk over the last, oh, I don’t know, 10 or 15 years or so, about silos being bad? About the need to break down barriers and get everybody in an agency working together for the good of the client?

“Creatives can be very egocentric,” Badger admitted. Yes, she hammers home that point pretty well. And, she added they can have high or low self-esteem and can be an “interesting bunch in order to get to the fantastic.”

But that’s true of a lot of different groups, throughout an agency and throughout the world.

I have heard more than one agency client proclaim that good ideas can come from anywhere, not just the creative department.

Badger, of course, isn’t the only creative to think like that. But the fact is “creatives” aren’t the only people with great and big ideas. Ideas that might even help a client improve its business.

While traditional “creatives” may not like it, their world is going to be continually rocked by forces outside of the big ideas rattling around in their brains, like data, AI and machine learning.

My advice: Bring all of that stuff into the room and wallow in it. The end result might just be, well, creative. 

1 comment about "'Give Us The Data And Get Out Of The Room'".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics, October 2, 2017 at 9:12 a.m.

    There's that word again---"data". One might ask exactly what "data" the media person---or anyone else ---  might give to the "creatives" that would be so important? The client already knows what kind of consumer uses the product---by demos and mindset----and the same goes for the brand. Such research is routinely availble and has been for many decades. OK, you ask, what else might pe provided? Well, one might explore the visitors of particular websites that are, in various ways, related to the product---some directly like travel sites, others much less directly. If you had access to the information----which is not a given--- you coud track what other websites said visitors visited and---if available---what specific bits of information they seem to look at. From this you might deduce that "they"---some people who might use your product--are into health, or the arts, or certain kinds of sports. So you feed that info to the "creative" and this is supposed to guide---or govern---the eventual  positioning strategy and/or commercial execution for the brand's new ad campaign? Actually, this kind of information in much greater detail, is already available via Simmons and MRI as well as other human-based sources. Moreover, the "creative" needs to come up with ideas in a competitive context----the client, in most cases is competing with rival brands, not operating in a vacuum.

    I'd love to see less vague talk about "data"---meaning the kinds of "insights" one might gleen from "big data" product buyer profiles or internet activities---and much more about new forms of data that are not already available that might cause a marketer to radically reorder his/her thinking. Targeting media buys based on TV viewing habits of people who are assumed to be product users, is very basic stuff----good but hardly decisive. Let's hear more about what the "creatives" should be learning from "data" that they don't know or can't easily find out from existing sources long in use.

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