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'Data is stifling creativity'– CMOs from Allstate Insurance, Mondelez & Dell discuss integrating data into communications


By Jennifer Faull | Deputy Editor

September 30, 2014 | 3 min read

Creativity is being stifled by data and marketers must find a way of pulling better insights, according to a panel of chief marketers and CEOs at Advertising Week New York.

During the ‘What keeps CMOs up at night?’ session, Bryan Jones, vice president of marketing at Dell, said that he found data could be stifling to creativity to the point where in certain circumstances he would keep his 'data people' away from 'the creative people' of the business.

“Data is an intrinsic part of our culture. We have a dashboard and so a lot of the time it’s about how we keep ourselves from being paralysed by data. We tend, sometimes, to slow ourselves down. So what do we do? On social media for example, I’m careful not to allow the data people past a certain depth because creativity is sometimes stifled by it,” he explained.

Agreeing, Lisa Cochrane, senior vice president of marketing, Allstate Insurance Company, said that marketers must continue to trust their gut, not simply the hard numbers.

“The trick is to use data to look for new trends and strategic intuition. A lot of our decisions are based on gut – we have a lot of data and work with media partners with a lot of data so the trick is to figure out which data to pay attention to, and sorting through all this junk,” she said.

Dana Anderson, the newly appointed CMO at Mondelez, added that data had a way of making marketers feel secure, but “that runs into a brick wall when you have an idea that will make somebody feel something.”

“To have the bravery, the strategic intuition – which is just your brain being ahead of your mouth – you need to learn to trust [your gut].”

Offering her views from an agency perspective, Lisa Donohue, CEO for Starcom USA, defied anyone to name a CEO of a Fortune 500 company that had never made a decision based instinct over data.

“You’ve got to keep [the gut feeling] a part of the equation. It is very rare that we need more data right now. Data is in silos; it’s not integrated and the links are not being made. So we have to put emphasis on integrating the data to get insights out of it,” she said.

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