Agencies: the nature of creative is changing

Mary Beth Kemp

I’ve just finished reading “A Whole New Mind - Why right-brainers will rule the future”.  In it, Daniel Pink explores the growing importance of storytelling, meaning, empathy, and concept.  Leaders will need to see the big picture and connect the ‘relationships between relationships’.  So, inventors and creative types are the future. 

Great news for the art student that I was and for those many hoping for a Lion at the Cannes Festival this week. 

Isn’t the nature of creative changing?

First, consumer participation is altering the way we tell the story. In fact, brands and agencies don’t even get to tell the whole story anymore (maybe they never did, but it was less visible before).  Good storytelling has become like my memories of childhood campfires, where one person starts a tale and you go around the circle, each person adding a section. 

Sometimes the result is great and sometimes the narrative takes an unexpected turn. That first idea structures what happens, as does the relationship between the players. 

The second shift is about those relationships or connecting the dots.  Brands will need to become that adept person at a cocktail party who gets others to chatter. Would Dove’s Evolution campaign have won the Grand Prix last year if it hadn’t built such a resonance with the audience?

Dove's sucess demonstrates Daniel Pink has got it right about empathy being a critical trait. Agencies will need to listen to pick up important themes from key consumer communities… then work their creative magic to shape a brand story that interests them… and then facilitate the discussion.

This evolution to conversation is the most important creative change I see. 


re: Agencies: the nature of creative is changing

Nothing beats a good story, well told. Case in point - Just read almost any book by Jeffrey Archer. Simple story well told is better than a John Grisham any day.Here are a few more questions to ponder> In the era of UGC if we are creating and telling the story ourselves, how does the agency matter or channel this storytelling ability of the masses?> Will advertising move more towards a story being told for me (my story) and thus have agencies creating more IP for consumer knowledge?> How can agencies create the effect of a story being controlled by them across media however letting the users still believe that it is their creation?> Can the agency/brand create a deeper relationship via the story? What's the risk in gettign the story WRONG?

re: Agencies: the nature of creative is changing

"This evolution to conversation is the most important creative change I see."If you step back to put this into perspective with the larger trend toward what I refer to as Consumer Choice , and what Chris Anderson calls the era of mass specialization, then the ability to develop a real conversation, and not just something self serving,will probably distinguish the companies that lead versus those who follow trends.

re: Agencies: the nature of creative is changing

Some first thoughts on your questions to ponder:I believe the agency's role will be to facilitate and to 'seed', so there is clearly space for them (that is, they do matter). All communities need care and feeding which will be another part of the agency's job.One of the interesting dicotomies is growing individualism, and growing reliance on communities and groups, so marketers will need to understand and interact with both those levels. And both will create IP for agencies and brands to build off of.Anyone who tries to 'create the effect' will find themselves in the flog pile at some point. So no, the story isn't controlled across media by agencies, but the cross-media possibilities are thought about and built-in (perhaps even with the help of some consumers).Brands have always been about stories, so indeed are the mechanism to build a relationship. There are now more ways to make brands come to life and I love the morphing of marketing/service/experience. About getting it wrong - the notion of wrong is changing. So brands are now wrong when there is no resonance, when there is no involvement. They'll be wrong in the future if they don't connect with a specific audience. But let me be clear - that means a brand must chose its niche, so a brand may connect with one audience, however not another - and that will be right, not wrong ;-)