Data v. Creativity: Who Wins?

The tension between data and creativity was apparently very much on display at New York Ad Week recently. It seems as if the industry pendulum has swung from an emphasis on creativity to an emphasis on data and back again. That swinging too far in one direction will always lead you back to the other would seem obvious.   In the immortal words of David Ogilvy, known to many as the father of advertising, “In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.” Instead, Ogilvy felt that “advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.”es in.

Data used to have a simple place in advertising — as a utilitarian tool in the background. However, when digital advertising took off and the industry realized it could have better metrics on ad responses and consumer desires, data came to the forefront.  But now that we know we can target the right consumer on a multitude of platforms at any hour in any medium, we have come back to the grim reality that we still need a compelling message. In digital your message needs to be even more compelling as the user is in control and can often scroll past, close or somehow skip boring messages.

Once again, from Ogilvy “There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands of whiskey, or cigarettes or beer. They are all about the same. And so are the cake mixes and the detergents, and the margarines… The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit.

Now in 2014, in the words of Rishad Tobaccowala, there is “too much plumbing, too little poetry.” For brand advertising, storytelling is necessary. Especially for video. No matter how much data you have about your customer, there’s no engagement in a video without a good story.  Tobaccowala gives an example from a recent Nestle campaign, which he felt was an example of next generation storytelling.

We help the story tellers. The ZINC Native InArticle Video unit provides advertisers with a large space on an un-cluttered part of a page, where the users really see it. Viewability is very high and the uniqueness of this format plus the tier one sites, means that the right users are watching. So now that users are watching the ZINC Native video unit: storytellers, please tell your story