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How tech, creativity and data are forming a new kind of equilibrium

Wright points to Spotify Unwrapped as example of a well-received campaign that uses data and targeting

As marketers prepare to enter a new era, FCB Inferno managing director Katy Wright outlines how fueling creativity with tech and data can benefit brands and audiences alike.

Around the time I left school, I wanted more than anything to be an airline pilot. Really, I did – I received training, and I was utterly serious about a career in aviation. My life ended up taking a different, brilliant path, but that love of the skies is still ingrained in me.

I was reminded of that original life goal of mine when reading recently about the impact of data on our industry. When the technology required to fly was first applied to the commercial sector, it heralded a complete revolution and restructuring of the global economy. Businesses were now operating in a world where markets thousands of miles apart from each other could be bridged in a matter of hours, not weeks. There was, quite simply, no going back.

Over the past decade, I believe we’ve reached a similar point with technology and data. Marketing has never been about who can shout the loudest into a megaphone – instead, these advancements have allowed audiences to split into unique and personalized fields, while at the same time giving us the opportunity to speak to them in a way that’s relevant. The communications landscape has utterly changed and, once again, there’s no going back. You can’t uninvent progress.

But I believe we’re now arriving in a new era. And the successful marketers of the future will be those who understand the delicate balance and relationship between those three forces.

As with any period of adjustment, the past ten years or so have been turbulent. Advancements in technology have seemed to drag creativity outside of its comfort zone – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But the dust is starting to settle. We’ve arrived at a place where three forces that might previously have felt opposed to each other – tech, creativity and data – are forming a new kind of equilibrium.

That’s partly because we now have a generally high level of knowledge and awareness about tech and data. People are savvy about giving away their data – but there’s no evidence to suggest they’re fundamentally opposed to doing it when the incentive is right. There are still examples of extremely well-received campaigns that use data and targeting – just look at the cultural phenomenon that unfolds every time Spotify Wrapped appears on Instagram feeds.

The reason these kinds of campaigns are so popular, invariably, is because they haven’t sacrificed creativity for the sake of tech or data. Rather, the tech and data have put rocket boosters underneath a creative idea or insight.

We recently worked with The Big Issue and LinkedIn to create online networking profiles on the social media site for Big Issue vendors. We provided training so that vendors could confidently use the LinkedIn platform and then, crucially, we used data from users’ company profiles to determine the location of each vendor and connect them with the businesses they would previously have worked with pre-lockdown.

This wouldn’t have been possible without those three forces working in harmony. Firstly, you need tech in order for the platform to exist and to ensure that people have access to it. Following that, you need data to understand where each vendor is based and who might realistically be in their network. And, finally, you need creativity to find the original insight that drives the idea forward.

And it proves the point that people want what they’ve always wanted – brilliant creative where data and tech are seamlessly integrated. Leaning into how these forces fuel each other is the most exciting part of how modern marketing is moving forwards, and where the best ideas take flight.

Katy Wright is managing director of FCB Inferno.

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