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Creative transformation: how brands can accelerate creativity as a performance driver?

One of the biggest challenges for creative teams is linking outputs to business success. But with technology helping to transform creative teams, it's time for creativity to shine as a performance driver. The Drum and Celtra spoke to leading marketers from Foodpanda, OPPO, EA Games, JioSaavn and UpGrad about shining a light on creativity for performance and the challenges of digitally transforming.

The Drum and Celtra have been gathering marketing and creative leaders together to discuss the challenges for creative teams. The sessions have unveiled important trends and challenges, including a growing content production gap and the challenges of scaling creativity online, as well as the growing influence of automation.

The latest discussion raised the topic to new heights by looking at how creativity could be raised to board-level discussions by proving its value as a performance driver.

The need to digitally transform is clear, explains Raushida Vasaiwala, general manager, APAC at Celtra, as it can solve a lot of the pressure facing creative teams.

"As team leaders, there is always some 'hair on fire' problems like the speed and deadlines, but they can't handle this because the process is so cumbersome and they risk team burnout," says Vasaiwala.

"Designers are spending so much time doing manual work and repetitive tasks, rather than focusing on the design and craft. From a business standpoint, the cost per acquisition is going so high because you are resorting to the lowest common denominator. You end up serving the same generic ads for weeks and months, which causes ad fatigue and impacts brand equity. Let's change this and remove the pressure that goes back to the creative team while maintaining the quality of ads," she adds.

The creative industry is in a phase of huge change, according to marketers, which impacts the need for new talent, new models, and new technology. One big topic for the team was around the best models for success, be that in-house, using an agency or a hybrid of the two. The group agreed that a hybrid version was best, but what that looked like depended on the business itself.

Shreyas Shevade, head of creative and content marketing at UpGrad, echoed this point and says this is because the creative teams are now closer to the business goals.

"Our jobs, at least in this group who've worked in agencies and moved to the client-side, are not just about getting good grades but solving business problems. Maybe it's the group present today and their experience and capabilities, but I get a sense that brand consistency is something they can easily ensure, but the scaling of creative output is a big challenge for creative teams," he adds.

This balance between scaling and maintaining quality was also a core focus for Chiara Capitano, global head of creative and design at OPPO, who says she welcomes digital transformation to improve speed and process.

"What I always remind stakeholders and teams is that if there is no quality, if there is no idea first, no matter how many pieces of ads you're going to output, it's not going to do anything for you for the brand. It's quality over quantity for me. It's always the number one rule," she explains.

EA Games' head of creative strategy gave an example of this. He saw the potential of automation and highly scaled creative working for some mobile gaming publishers, which needs a very different tactic to the PC or console games that EA has traditionally launched.

"When it comes to mobile, it's an entirely different ballgame. It really opened my eyes to the need and the power of automation when it's done well. Some mobile gaming user acquisition ads can be low-quality creatively. From our perspective, we want to leverage a lot of these automation processes to make a lot of stuff possible but still ensure that we deliver quality creative, instead of just really pumping out as much as possible," he says.

When creative teams can find the right balance of scale and quality, creativity can prove itself as a tool to help brands and businesses meet their objectives, helping elevate the case for creativity within a business.

Gursimran Singh, head of brand strategy and creative solutions, JioSaavn, says, "In times of uncertainty today, creativity has got to do three things: generate possibilities, scale-up, and ensure that it works to reach the desired objectives of the brands and business. What's new is how creativity can be scaled and how it can be measured, and I think that is the biggest contribution that today's creative processes and creative people have to give to the marketing fraternity."

Not all businesses place a high value on creativity as a business driver, proving this a challenge that many marketers and creative leaders face. However, for Foodpanda, this is less of a challenge as design and creativity is in its founder's DNA, explains Reinald Chee, head of creative APAC, Foodpanda.

"One of the things that designers always do is to create a beautiful experience. With this beautiful experience, you can turn it into a business. This is the learning that, as a leader, I try to pass on," he explains, adding that an experience and customer-first approach is key.

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