By Andrea Brown, Managing Director, LiquidThread UK - Starcom Mediavest Group's branded content division
We all know the premium put on creativity in marketing communications, but in real life what we get asked for most often are campaigns that have never been done before. Media firsts, the most original idea ever, call it what you like, it just has to be new. But it also has to be executable, no matter how creative the idea is.
The dictionary definition of innovation is "a new method, idea, product, etc," and creativity "the use of imagination or original ideas to create something". That said, we are increasingly seeing the best work being born between the alchemy of these two worlds, rather than just everything evolving from the big creative idea.
2016 sees the inaugural Digital Craft jury for Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in pure recognition of the need for this fusion between innovation and creativity. As Wesley ter Haar, founder of MediaMonks and President of Digital Craft category at Cannes, so eloquently puts it, we therefore need to reward the "perfect execution of digital strategy, user experience, digital design, and development that many agencies and brands are bringing to market" in a way that has a big impact on business.
This is music to my ears and supports what we at LiquidThread (SMG's branded content division) have known for some time. Innovation inspires and fuels creativity, and it's not before time that this is now being acknowledged. Our own NextTECHnow programme at Starcom Mediavest Group - which partners tech start-ups with our clients to meet specific business challenges - could be construed as tending heavily towards the innovation end of the spectrum because we task ourselves with providing clients with disruptive solutions that can be activated. And, we've seen a fascinating by-product of exposing our creative, content, strategy, and planning and buying teams to this innovation - a proliferation of new ideas. The entire agency is stimulated by the endless possibilities presented by our talented and passionate tech start-ups. Collaboration is a key behaviour in this new ecosystem and requires many different partners working together and feeding off each other's ideas, which can come from anywhere. Crucially, we have a new type of talent in the business, people who have not only have an understanding, but a passion for tech, creativity and communications. Their job is to create unique combinations of these to deliver rich and rewarding experiences to consumers. This expertise cannot be the remit of only a handful of senior people, or departments, but needs to exist at all levels of the business.
The benefits of this are clear to our clients. For one recent campaign we worked with one of our start-up partners to provide a new digital display format so that we could deliver creative in environments that were aligned to our client's brand values in order to generate awareness and start a conversation. The results were phenomenal. We saw engagement rates of 40% and a new solution to overcome the increasingly important issue of ad blocking. Simply put, without the input of the start-up (the innovator) the creative and activation our team came up with, this would have never existed.
This is but one example of the many ways we bring together the modern creative toolkit - insight from panels to real time audience data, tech partners and creative and media strategists - to produce personalised creative that is delivered to the right person in the right place for them, that builds brands and drives more sales.
Creativity comes from all the partners and the innovators are more often than not the key ingredient.