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Creative Works The Future of Work Business Leadership

We’ve got to let go of the past – and learn to love today’s great work

By Mark Iremonger, Managing director and strategy partner



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October 4, 2022 | 5 min read

Data and tech have revolutionized marketing’s potential – but according to some, they’ve also taken the shine off its creative outer reaches. Nucco’s Mark Iremonger argues that it’s time to re-calibrate our approach to greatness.

A sand timer in pebbles

Nucco's Mark Iremonger says it’s time to re-imagine what greatness means in the marketing industry / Aron Visuals via Unsplash

How do we square the popular opinion that marketing has gone to hell in a hand-cart because of data and evidence based marketing, with the fact that data and evidence-based marketing contributes to brands bouncing back quicker post-recession?

Exhibit one: ‘Marketing has gone to hell in a hand-cart’ from the Financial Times: “It’s not an especially enjoyable job for people who do it now,” said Bruce Daisley, a former Twitter executive and writer on workplace culture. “It’s become far more tactical, performance-based. Advertisers are obsessed with showing a particular ad works [by generating sales] rather than necessarily evoking a sense of the brand. The heyday of great advertising creativity — where there were iconic TV ads that everybody would talk about — that has gone.”

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Exhibit two: data and evidence-based marketing works, from the IPA. The IPA recently ran a great campaign encouraging brands to hold or raise their marketing budgets during the current economic downturn; the case being that brands who invest in advertising during recession benefit from the increased share of voice they earn in the bounce back. This is a great message that sits alongside the IPA’s commitment to advocate outstanding creativity as a driver of effectiveness.

But it gets complicated. The IPA goes on to point out that during recent downturns, the brands that invest in data and evidence-led marketing have been the most successful in holding market share and building back faster. They chose two case studies to back their point: the re-use of the nostalgic Hovis ‘boy on a bike’ TV ad; and Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Still Red Hot’ campaign. Both are great examples of creativity as a driver of effectiveness, but drawn from the 2008 recession, and neither play to the label of ‘data and evidence-based marketing’.

The problem with these examples is that in 2008 Facebook and YouTube were under five years old. 2008 was three years before Snapchat was born, and thirteen before TikTok turned up. This is a missed opportunity to showcase work that actually works in the media and audience landscape of 2022.

Where are the campaigns that demonstrate the use of data and evidence to drive effectiveness and creativity? Where are the hero content campaigns that target audience groups across paid and owned channels?

My hunch is that modern work does not get the airtime it deserves because it can be complicated to explain. It is often multi-faceted and targeted, so it’s hard to pitch in a pithy sound bite. When I ran strategy and planning at Proximity London BBDO we believed (and I advocated) that if an idea didn’t fit on a post-it it wouldn’t create great work. I’m not so sure this is true anymore.

It’s time to let go of the past and find better ways to recognize, celebrate and showcase modern creative work that works.

If we don’t, we might find ourselves forever falling short of the ‘golden’ creative days of advertising because we measure our creations against an irrelevant past rather than recognizing their strength for the present. Isn’t it time to love today’s great work, and embrace the marketing culture that creates it?

Creative Works The Future of Work Business Leadership

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