The Age of Advertising Creativity in a Time of Disruption

We are entering the age of advertising creativity and while it may feel disruptive and challenging, it is also exciting and inspiring. That was the message from the recent advertising club's Media:Now conference.

As with other parts of the media industry, agencies are experiencing transformative change. It is no longer enough to ply spots and dots in siloed media. Agencies that succeed are employing a range of innovative, creative driven solutions to better connect with their consumers and, ultimately, reinforce the brand personality and drive sales. "We need to reach out beyond the traditional media plan," explained Rob Rakowitz, Director of Global Media for MARS Inc.

Jack Myers, Chairman of Media Village and a noted media ecologist, spoke of the future looking trends impacting our industry. "We are entering in the golden age of advertising creative," he stated, "The economics around content is challenged and questioned. We are dealing with a lot of issues in an age of algorithms, data science, ad-blocking, ad clutter and ad avoidance. If we make it all science and too little art, advertising becomes moot and irrelevant. The emphasis on ad creative is pivotal."

But concentrating on ad creative is challenging. Allison Tarrant, EVP Client Partnerships Group, NBCU explained, "We have been in the custom content space for many years. What has changed is how we need to adapt high quality TV creative to advertising and be nimble across platforms. How we can be faster, cheaper, better. Being nimble in market is one of our biggest challenges. The need to develop creative at a high production level is another big challenge."

But there are many success stories from companies such as MARS and Mondolez who presented their efforts on creating content that serves both the consumers' need for entertainment and engagement as well as the advertisers' need for reinforcing and strengthening the brand personality and maximizing ROI.

MARS – Reaching Out Beyond the Traditional Media Plan
“We at MARS are expanding role of media beyond mass reach,” explained Rakowitz. To do this, the company needed to get a sense of the “MARS journey,” blurring of lines between commerce, data and creative and driving the idea of more convergent media. “How does it affect content, weave into tech and how it drives commerce,” he added. “We look at outcomes not just outputs to drive brand growth.”

MARS contends with a range of “mores” – more data, platforms and disruptions. “It is a confusing, exciting, exhilarating time to work in this space, trying to make sense of it all,” he admits. Some examples of how MARS is serving change include work in creating online vignettes for Twix and cooking demonstrations to show the value of adding grains to a meal for a specific Uncle Ben’s packaged rice product. MARS strives for two vectors according to Rakowitz, “Timeless and timely. Timeless tells a consistent brand story that is enduring and memorable and timely bring in the moment and driving talk ability.”

Mondolez – Building Dragons, Not Unicorns
Mondolez Chief Media and eCommerce Officer Bonin Bough demonstrated that even an established brand like Oreo can expand its brand story and make it relevant and valuable to today’s consumer. “Disruptions sits on the shoulder of giants,” Bough explained, “You needed Hilton to get to Airbnb and Henry Ford to Uber vs Taxis.” In the case of Oreo, Mondolez allowed customers to design their own custom packaging and then directly shipped the product to the consumer. “It is all about communicating to customers. Even a cookie can sit in the chain from disruption to wonder,” he added, “It could change a brand forever.” 

Oreo celebrated Gay Pride in 2012 with Rainbow icing layers demonstrating that a cookie could have a point of view on culture. In 2014 Mondolez used a 3d printer to print a customized Oreo based on current trends. “We are planting the seed of innovation and building ‘mass custom’. There is a huge opportunity for disruption,” he said.

But finding and nurturing the right talent is a big challenge. Bough admits that, “Right now everyone is looking for unicorns but few unicorns survive past five years. We have a unique opportunity to build dragons, not unicorns. We need to reskill our entire organization in order to disrupt in a large corporation. We need to find a coalition of the willing - Those in the organization who want to bring about change. We need intra-preneurs and celebrate those in organizations who bring about change like we celebrate outside entrepreneurs.”

The disruptive future looks bright for companies like MARS and Mondolez. But more needs to be done. As Jack Myers concluded, “We need to bring in more young people and more multiculturalism into our business. Our business must reflect the audience we at talking to.”

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