Do Data and Creative Mix? Q&A With VMLY&R's Craig Elimeliah

 In a media world awash with data, one might be forgiven for thinking there is less space for creativity. But that would be a wrong assumption. In fact, according to Craig Elimeliah, Executive Director Experience, VMLY&R agency, “Data is part of our creative palette. Data helps to unearth deeper human insights that allow us to create more meaningful and valuable connections with our audiences.”

As someone with both a creative and data-driven background, I was interested in learning more.

Weisler: How can data best be leveraged in crafting creativity?

Elimeliah: Data is often looked at in a very scientific and academic way — this is a symptom of data having been traditionally owned by those domains. But I believe we now live in a world where data is less binary. Creative people are using data so much more fluidly and naturally; they are using data in creative ways that enable them to mine more jewels from it, and use it as a medium to engage and communicate. Data is sexier than most people give it credit for being.



Weisler: What are the new technologies that can stimulate the creativity of copywriters and art directors?

Elimeliah: AI is no longer this inaccessible thing. It’s built into everything. Phone cameras are a really interesting creative tool. There is so much intelligence baked into the tech, and a single picture and the responses it elicits can unlock volumes of data and creative inspiration when you push the tools to really perform. Stimulation is all around us.

I think technology is also our biggest barrier for creativity because people have become ensnared inside of insulated pockets and tend to only see things that reinforce their own views. Technology needs to be both harnessed and broken in order to truly gain creative power from it. 

Weisler: What role does neuroscience play in this?

Elimeliah: I believe neuroscience was invented because humans need a scientific explication for everything. In this case we want to be able to explain creativity. There are no tools to truly measure our capacity to generate ideas that are unique and original, ideas that break conventions and change the world.

Creativity is the ability to tap into the entirety of your experiences all at once, and to be able to identify and pull out feelings and emotions that are closely associated with the task at hand as a starting-off point. Not sure science can contain that. 

Weisler: How does one identify the target’s “true meaning pivot points” where creativity can best be applied? What are the need states?

Elimeliah: Love this question!  We often fall into the trap of trying to force a journey or a path onto our “target” (I don’t like calling people targets).  We try and look at how people really behave and then try to find ways to be helpful in moments that give us the best opportunity to do so. People are inundated with so many things at once, and our job is to be empathic with how we engage them. 

No one is going to “pivot” — hate that word, too. They will, however, recognize when a brand is being helpful and adding value to their lives, and will respond in kind to that gesture if it is made to the right person, in the right place and at the right time. 

Disruption and intrusion are obnoxious and rude unless a person has given explicit consent that that is how they want to be engaged. It’s a very delicate process.  There is no silver bullet. 

Weisler: Talk more about Dynamic Creative, based on microsecond by microsecond responses. How can it be  monitored, measured and exploited?

Elimeliah: Dynamic Creative is a message that is distributed at an atomic level using data and targeting. I’m not a huge fan of banners and the like, but I do appreciate their abilities to get messages out there. 

What really excites me is the idea of sequential storytelling: the ability to leverage dynamic creative, along with data and targeting, to tell a story to many different audiences, using frequency and creative and unique formats that work in combination over many channels. Personalization really helps to increase engagement. 

2 comments about "Do Data and Creative Mix? Q&A With VMLY&R's Craig Elimeliah".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 14, 2019 at 11:09 a.m.

    Charlene, it all depends on what is meant by "data" and how one interprets the information. So, of course, "data" can be a big help for creatives when it really provides some statistical foundation for what would, otherwise, be purely subjective assessments.Nothing new about that. As for "microsecond by "microsecond" responses to "dynamic creative storytelling distributed at an atomic level" ---boy, what a mouthful.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, November 14, 2019 at 2:59 p.m.

    A bit late to the party, but welcome anyway.

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