Chris Rawlinson, Group Innovation Director, Ogilvy South Africa

Five Lessons On Creativity & Innovation From Award Shows Around The World

Creativity and innovation, it’s a love story as old as humanity itself. We tend to talk about this topic a lot in ad land but I think we often get going without first stopping to define the difference between the two. Simply put, creativity is about generating new and novel ideas, and innovation refers to the application of these ideas.
 
This year I have been lucky enough to do a lot of industry-related traveling, and as such have managed to get to chat to some of our industry’s top players…often in a bar at 3AM. But nevertheless, based on these chats and observations I will share with you my top five lessons on creativity and innovation in today’s marketing climate.
 
1) The Rise Of Branded Utility

This refers to brands creating products and services that are useful to consumers in everyday life. If you think about it, this is common sense. People are not really interested in brands. They are more interested in things that can solve their everyday problems. If agencies and brands want to remain relevant they need to point their creativity in the direction of innovative utility. Just look for human pain points and then see how you can simplify the solutions. Time is our most precious commodity, so the more you do this, the more you will win. The L'Oréal Make Up Genius campaign is a great example of this.
 
2) Collaboration Is Key

Innovation is impossible without collaboration, and creativity tends to be bettered by it. The more we share the more we win. Step one is to make your company more porous – open your doors, get out into your community, share and look for interesting people and brands to build something incredible with. The two most common examples in our industry of this so far are collaborations with start-ups (particularly tech ones), and brand partnerships that focus on social good. I have a feeling that “think like a start-up” is said about every 2 minutes at any big 2015 creative gathering. And for good reason.  The Delta Innovation Class case study demonstrates exactly how effective collaboration can be.
 
3) Be Fast And Do Good

Our attention span four years ago was twelve seconds on average. Today it's about eight seconds. For context, the attention span of a goldfish is nine! We live in a world where our views and opinions are becoming increasingly public and global news travels literally at the speed of light. Snapchat and other types of short messaging services are some of the fastest growing companies in the world now.
 
People often share things because they want to appear to be good, the exchange of a like here and a retweet there is a form of social currency. Because of this, brands are seeing that doing good can not only help make the world a better place, it can also help their bottom line. As Monika Lewinsky said at Cannes Lions this year: “Clicking is a public act and I would argue, a moral one too. With every click we make a choice.” Make sure that you become a brand that people want to click. FCB Inferno’s This Girl Can campaign for Sports England showed the world how this is done.
 
4) The Link Between Data, Tech And Neuroscience Is Going To Be Key

Data and technology work best when they enhance the human experience. The lines between machines and humans are blurring fast and it’s essential, not just for our industry, but also for humanity, to better understand this space. The majority of the world’s population now has a phone. Essentially it’s an extension of the human brain. If we want to know something, we just ask it and then move on with our day. A friend at Google said to me recently that ‘knowledge is powerful’ but it’s how we use it that defines us. The more brands and agencies can figure out how to merge tech and data to just seamlessly work, feel natural, and enhance our lives, the better we will all do. The virtual reality experience provided by THE VOID is a prime example of this new, immersive type of digital experience.
 
5) Everything's Changed, But Everything Remains The Same

The shifts from atoms to bits hasn’t changed the fundamentals, despite all the advances in technology going on in our world. We still burn with the power to succeed, to survive, to love and to take care of our own. When it comes down to it, culture is the most important thing that separates one business from another. We need to take more heartfelt care not just of our customers but of our own staff, the better we learn to empower both groups, the better, and more profitable our world will be. Some of the most powerful work this year has been around empowering culture shifting movements, these are very much about the heart. Remember the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?
 

Creativity and technology will be doing a dance for some time to come. They are modern day conduits for how we express ourselves. Innovation in this space will continue to grow exponentially each year. If we can follow some of the steps above, I believe we are much more likely to dance towards a more positive future.

This article is featured in the Campaigns Edition of the Heavy Chef Quarterly Review magazine. This publication focuses on The Exponential Return On Creativity - download it here.

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