Creative Data?

If ad agencies ruled in the twentieth century selling aspirational dreams to baby boomers, perhaps data insight agencies are going to rule this century with evidence-based stories for more cynical Millennials and Gen Z?
By
Paddy Sutton

February 22, 2018

World Cup fever hasn’t quite set in yet, but last week I found myself in a meeting with a client discussing a brief for sponsorship communications to run before, during and after the event in June and July.

I’ve been in this meeting before. Years ago working in advertising we got the same brief. Then it was for TV idents to run at the beginning and end of ad breaks during the World Cup. It was made clear to us by the client that they wanted something funny, something light-hearted. It was all about emotional engagement.

Times have changed, but the client was equally specific. They want digital content rather than TV and it has to feature data. They didn’t specify what data; it could be player data, or historical World Cup data, any data so long as it’s football related. We spent the rest of the meeting discussing different ways of animating data into film content.

On the way back into town it struck me that the meeting was just another example of something that’s been going on for a while. Data and creativity are becoming regular bedfellows. It’s not surprising. Last year an issue of the Economist told us that oil is no longer the most valuable commodity, it’s data. If data is ever more valuable and everyday there is more of the stuff doesn’t it make sense that data needs to be compellingly packaged up, just like any other desirable commodity. 

This isn’t something that’s just happened. David McCandless’s ‘Information is Beautiful’ came out in 2001 and was soon on every agency book shelf. But perhaps we’re entering a new chapter in the story. Would it be heresy to suggest that data, or research agencies, are going to be the creative agencies of the twenty first century? If ad agencies ruled in the twentieth century selling aspirational dreams to baby boomers, perhaps data agencies are going to rule this century with evidence-based stories for more cynical Millennials and Gen Z?

Alongside categories like ‘Media Brand of the Year’ and ‘Commercial Campaign of the Year’ the British Media Awards also feature a ‘Best Commercial Use of Data’ category. Last year the Economist took gold. This story has legs. 

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Paddy Sutton is Creative Director of ARGO, Morar HPI’s creative unit.

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