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Pioneering the creative hybrid: Tips for the future creative blueprint

By Matt Watson, ECD



The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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November 12, 2019 | 6 min read

"90% of advertising goes unnoticed and 77% of brands could disappear tomorrow and most wouldn’t be missed”, according to Ogilvy's Ad effectiveness survey. But why? Are our hard work, late nights, and endless pitches all in vain? Something’s not right.

Cult applaud content creators who are challenging traditional ways of thinking, like social media creative Freddie Smithson.

Cult applaud content creators who are challenging traditional ways of thinking, like social media creative Freddie Smithson.

Take a look at disruptive brands like Burberry and their latest B-Bounce work which immerses consumers into their world of luxury through social and digital experiences. They are doing what’s true to them and disrupting because they are hiring differently and hiring young talent; they’re becoming less precious about the creative process. Compare them to agencies and big brands, the process is completely different - it’s too traditional.

With the likes of @thisreo and @freddiemade on breaking boundaries by working directly with brands to challenge the norm of consumer content on Instagram. It's exciting see these fresh creative people who are saying a big F-you to conformists and breaking tradition. This is the type of work I’d like to see from creatives-in-training and in agencies but sadly not.

Kay Hsu, global director of Instagram’s creative shop, says: “Training in the industry is still quite traditional so when students come out they are less prepared to deal with the latest content needs”.

I couldn’t agree more; how is the talent of tomorrow going to take on getting that “90%” number down if they are not fully prepared to deal with emerging technology, data opportunities and the content needs of tomorrow? They need to be better equipped.

It's not just by understanding ourselves but others too; our audiences. We need to look into how the human brain works to create effective creative ideas. A recent book produced by the IPA called Lemons (a must read) touches on this research and how the root of advertising’s effectiveness issues lie within human physiology.

Contagious’ review of Lemons explains: “If brands want more long term effectiveness from their advertising, they must fight the inertia and create campaigns that appeal to the right hemisphere of the brain: that means ads that are funny, celebrate human connections and use fluency devices”. It's clear from this conclusion that we need ideas that strike a balance between both sides of the brain - our ideas need to pull on emotion (the left) and logic (the right). This needs to be addressed in our ideation process not just in execution.

We have to change, we have to adapt and we have to evolve. We have to think ‘hybrid’ in the way we approach, think and execute. We have to learn more about that once, scary word to us creatives: data. Like MCA founder Pat Murphy says: “If you’ve got a great creative idea, data can make that even more effective. Put the two together, I think it’s huge.”

It’s more than huge, the future of creativity will be fuelled by knowledge and understanding. We need to do things differently and that starts with us, the creative people.

Tip 1: Incubate ideas with alternative minds

We need to incubate ideas with other minds - no matter which department they are from - or even if they are outside your agency, go find the minds that help bring a different approach. Find talent in communities, production companies and behavioural science experts to ideate with, they will elevate your idea to a space that can provide more rigour and testing.

Tip 2: Embrace the unknown

I ask my teams: what have you learned this week, month and year? How can their ideas grow if they are not always learning? Build your skillset to enable you to communicate your idea in any format. If you are a writer, learn After Effects to put together your own animatics for your scripts, what about learning to code or even another language? Develop multi-level skills for clients who will demand more on smaller budgets. It’s time for you to embrace the unknown, learn something new and watch your ideas benefit from self-learning.

Tip 3: Solutions have no boundaries

Thinking the way you normally think is probably playing to the left hand side of your brain - think right too. Don’t be restrictive, don’t be obvious, don’t do something you have seen or heard of before. Then make sure your creative solutions are solving real problems - test them. Give an extra 20% on top of the brief, don’t let that brief restrict you to only answering the brief, discover the magic when you start to think beyond.

Tip 4: Be a great failure

It’s a numbers game, the more ideas you get out, the quicker, the more likely you are to get to that magic idea. In front of you will be a mountain of failures, but one award-winning nugget. The more you fail, the more you’ll learn to fail well, I mean, really well. Being a successful failure will elevate your thinking, whilst helping you cope when an idea is rejected - personally and mentally.

Tip 5: Be a rebel

Being brave is not doing it differently for the sake of it. Being brave is having a view on the world; a belief, an idea to make change. Feel free to challenge and push against conformity. This is where the best ideas come from. Don’t tolerate ok and ignore structure. Do what makes you authentically you.

There is no blueprint to the perfect hybrid creative, nor should there be. Modern creatives must adapt and evolve our approaches to enhance our thinking, problem-solving and growth. By looking through the hybrid lens we make the best of our creative ability to make positive change to the world around us.

Matt Watson, executive creative director at Cult.


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