The art and science of creativity: Part 3

Oct 11, 2022
Strategy Thought Leadershhip

This is the last article in a three-part series from our Creativity Council on the art and science of creativity. This blog dives into the third question posed by the authors, from the points of view of the client, the agency, and the research expert.

In this final blog, we dig into the area of bias, a topic where there is alignment amongst the contributors. All three – the agency, the research expert and the client – share the same point of view.

When it comes to whether data collection can be flawed, and whether creative is subjective, our perspective is simple: data is powerful, and it should be used for good.

Campaign analysis

Below, we analyze three campaigns and identify where great success was achieved without data. We also highlight an example where data could have been used to achieve positive results, but the opportunity was missed. Finally, we make note of where data was streamlined into the ideation and creative crafting to achieve excellent results.

No data win: Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ads

Nike is notorious for often not testing their creative. If it feels right, well, just do it. The Colin Kaepernick ads were no different. When Kaepernick took to his knee for the American National Anthem during NFL matches, the outrage from some groups in the U.S. was immediate and firm. Many brands would have steered clear of this conflict, but true to form, Nike went all in. After all, they’re a sports brand, and sports is all about choosing sides.

With many predicting Nike’s downfall for taking such a politicized stance, holding firm to their beliefs and backing a specific demographic, Nike was able to claim US $163 million in earned media, US $6 billion brand value growth and a sales boost of nearly 31 per cent. A case study with more detail can be seen here.

Impact of no data: Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad

In a classic and glaring example of creative crafted in a vacuum, Pepsi put out a campaign in 2017 that had Kendall Jenner diffusing a BLM protest with a Pepsi. The ad was not received positively; viewers felt it was ill-informed, ill-timed and tone deaf. This is a case where the in-house creative team could have greatly benefitted from data in order to better inform their choices.

The net result was that the ads had to be pulled and resignations followed. Pepsi apologized by saying “Pepsi was trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding. Clearly, we missed the mark and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue.”

Data and creative win: Spotify’s annual #Wrapped campaign

Spotify’s annual #Wrapped campaign is where data and creative truly excel together. In 2020, the campaign increased Spotify’s mobile app downloads by 21 per cent in the first week of the campaign. And success has grown since. The #Wrapped campaign uses individual user consumption data to create whimsical and fun creative that gives the audience insights into the quirks and truths behind human behaviour. Without making grand statements, Spotify has managed to make huge observations.

Final thoughts

There are multiple conclusions to be drawn, but the most important is that there is both a place and a need for data. Without data, we operate in a vacuum and become susceptible to errors, irrelevance and a lack of opportunity. Data is both a measure and a compass bearing. Data can inform and data can delight. Data, however, can’t exist effectively without humanity.

The availability of data in the creative process has created a healthy tension between agency, client and data planning specialists to generate creative that connects people to solutions. The collaboration encourages the three parties to seek a balance between data and empathy, truth, humour and humility. For now, those things belong outside the empirical sphere, but they’re wielded better with the application of good data.

Make sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2!

Alex Shifrin, President, LP/AD
Lauragaye Jackson, Director of International Banking Marketing, RBC
Julia Clements, Digital Market Research Professor, School of Business, Seneca College





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