While there’s no doubt that technology has always been present in the creative industries, its accelerated use has disrupted almost every aspect of our lives. Marketers regularly use tools to enable more efficient work and speed up workflows, while data is useful for informing a campaign’s direction. However, questions over the purpose of technology remain. Creatives recognise that while technology can act as an enabler of creativity, they can’t become too reliant on or distracted by technological developments as it could trivialise their campaign’s message. There’s a necessary fine line between experimenting with new tech and focusing on the campaign’s core message to ensure that their idea is creative and, most importantly, remains relevant.
The Drum, in partnership with Mailchimp, has launched A Guide for Growing Businesses to discuss some of the issues small-to-medium size enterprises (SMEs) face today when it comes to business growth.
The guide further explores how SMEs are achieving growth by finding a balance between creativity and tech.
Know your tech
“It’s difficult to define ‘technology’ today,” says Unit9’s creative director, Kate Lynham. “From improvements and everything ‘in-camera’, CGI techniques to artificial intelligence software, it all falls under the same umbrella and you can’t really work without it in some way.”
Tech falls under so many categories and is used in such varied ways that separating the tech from the creative can be difficult to do. Lynham urges marketers to become really familiar with the tech they’re working with so they can continue to find room for experimentation. “If you don’t have enough of an understanding of the tech itself, then you can’t think of ways to manipulate it,” she adds. “Reimagining what a piece of technology can do is part of the process. At Unit9, we’ve used a GPS system across three different jobs, with each providing totally different creative outcomes even though the base technology is the same.”
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Resisting tech trends
It can be tempting to plunge head first into the tech and try out new innovations as they arise. But Nexus Interactive Arts’ executive producer, Colin Davis, urges marketers to proceed with caution and not get swept up by tech trends. “The real source of a lot of what people perceive as technology getting in the way of creativity stems from how technology gets covered in the press,” he says. “Novelty and ‘world’s first’ get attention and thus there is a PR premium placed on that, which causes the technology to drive the creative, which rarely results in amazing work that stands the test of time.”
Wieden+Kennedy’s head of technology, Michael Naman, agrees – the industry needs to restrain using tech for tech’s sake or else we risk undermining creativity. “We as an industry are fantastic at navel gazing; we continually fetishise over what we can do with technology and forget about what technology is doing to our clients’ businesses,” he says.
“These businesses will be unrecognisable in the next five to 10 years as they continue to digitise what they do.”
Collaborative creative processes
Streamlining the creative process and getting creatives to work more closely with tech developers is one way to make sure that the process is a bit more joined-up. “Bringing creatives and coders together at the beginning of a brief can yield fantastic results, but you have to be willing to learn,” he says. “You can’t just rock up with a tech idea and expect it to work out of the box. It can be unnerving to hand over your idea to a team of coders who are going to tell you that certain bits aren’t going to work, so focus on building trust between teams and production companies.”
Ultimately, tech can push ideas into unimaginable territory, but brands need to remember the importance of connecting with their consumers.
“Creativity can suffer when marketers are too quick to jump to a solution that is solely data-driven and ignores the human factors at play,” cautions Media Chain’s COO, Dominic McGregor.
Going post the digital hype of course is key, but it is also critical to remember how technology can create opportunities.
Technology is an incredible tool for understanding audiences and informing creative decision making, an assistant in the creative process. However, it’s important for marketers to get the balance right between tech and creativity because, ultimately, it is creativity that creates value, concludes Lynham.