'Big data is like teenage sex, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it' - Ogilvy’s Jennifer Hu

The debate around big data is like teenage bravado and smoke and mirrors around their discussions of sex, according to Ogilvy & Mather executive creative director Jennifer Hu.

Speaking on a panel about how China’s unique digital landscape is impacting marcoms, she said: “Big data is like teenage sex. Everyone thinks everyone else is doing it and even if it does happen, you don't really know it."

The panel, chaired by features editor of Chinese-language creative magazine Longyin Review, Mengfei Zhou, showcased creative work from China that harnessed some of the emerging digital trends from the region, including global phenomenons such as big data.

“For creators big data is a really good thing, we can learn from history and this may not have been able to happen if big data didn't exist. Data can go into people's life and help create experiences,” added Hu.

Big data is a hot topic in China and major platforms like Tencent, which owns WeChat, are forging relationships with major advertising groups like Dentsu Aegis, GroupM and Omnicom.

Alongside Hu, on a rare panel of only female creatives, was TBWA Hong Kong ECD Esther Wong and Maureen Sherrard, creative producer at Goodstein in Shanghai.

Of big data, Wong, said: “Whether positive or negative, it’s just a challenge. You embrace it or ignore it and pretend it’s not changing fast. As a creative we have to change our hat. Data is a brief, we don’t been to wait for a brief anymore. And we can create conversation with a target audience.”

One particular piece of work shown around data was Baidu’s project alongside Unesco to restore the Nepalese cultural sites destroyed by the earthquake. It asked people to send in their own pictures of the sites and is using deep learning techniques to render a 3D image of them, thus digitally restoring them.

Wong chastised the use of emotion alongside data and technology as a means of winning hearts: “It’s good because it’s technology combined with emotional engagement, not tech for the sake of tech. You can still be very advanced and be very high tech but you still have to bring emotion to people.”

Goodstein’s Sherrard, spoke of the negatives of using data in ads but believes it ultimately creates better marketing.

“It could be negative as a consumer because big data sounds scary. You think, are you looking at me all the time? It sounds intrusive. It could be a negative thing but it’s interesting to know how this can create targeted, meaningful ads that are effective and have both a story and a relationship with the consumers,” she added.

Charlotte McEleny

I'm The Drum's Asia Editor, charged with finding all the interesting industry news and insights from the Asia Pacific region.

When I'm not writing about this diverse and innovative region, I can be found eating Singapore's incredible food.

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