After a busy first day listening to Australia's best marketing experts, it was evident that everyone who took the stage shared one opinion – creativity is king. However, it was also agreed that we must have data insights to help guide that creative.
The agencies that are winning new business are focusing on creating innovative content that strategically responds to the age-old ‘who, what, where, when and why’. By publishing pieces that create buzz, they are generating earned media that saves brands thousands, and emotionally engaging audiences that have reached content saturation.
Petronella Panérus of Åkestam Holst, which won International Agency of the Year for 2017, says that her agency has achieved award-winning campaigns by following the creative hearts/scientific brains mentality.
According to Panérus, creating content that has an emotional impact on your audience helps build a connection that is more likely to linger in their memories. And when people feel, they interact with your brand. Not only that, but they share the content. And as more and more people share it, it has a snowball effect, making it more likely for a campaign to be picked up and shared by media outlets.
This is something that Åkestam Holst has little problem doing, with so many of their campaigns generating enormous earned media results – for example, their highly successful ikearetailtherapy.com campaign. These projects are about creativity first and foremost, but, as Panérus put it, they do need to have a business result, and be backed by data, to show their effectiveness.
We like to emphasis this at Hardie Grant (and have written about it before) – tangible KPIs are important for helping you refine your content strategy. However, as Panérus pointed out, much of the creative content being published in Australia and beyond right now feels data led but lacks the inspiring idea that enables it to get noticed. It’s important to strike the right balance with your content. There are some campaigns that are doing this in incredibly inspiring ways. Think Meet Graeme, Hungerithm, Reword, The Boys and Don’t Ignore a Cough.
So how does Åkestam Holst foster creativity and enable its employees to flourish? By opening the brief to its entire organisation. The agency’s philosophy is simple – creativity is inside everyone no matter their age or role, and by allowing everyone in the organisation to participate, it keeps them engaged, inspired, and thinking. They are constantly stretching themselves and looking at things in new and exciting ways.
Another key strength of the agency is its diversity. The organisation is full to the brim with female leaders, and Panérus is a perfect example of this in action. It was inspiring to see the impact diversity can have in the workforce when it’s something that brands prioritise. Both cultural and gender-specific diversity were spoken about a lot at the event, across all organisations.
Elizabeth Serotte, Vice President of Marketing & Communications at State Street Global Advisors (the brand behind the Fearless Girl campaign), summed this up well when she quoted Cindy Gallop in her presentation – "Diversity is what drives us to try innovation, disruption and creativity".
What was also driving conversation was the need for content to do good. Over the course of the day many speakers said they wanted content to inspire, educate or engage but to also have some positive impact on people and society.
And what was evident in all of the creative campaigns shown was that simplicity is still key. Don’t overcomplicate it. Know your audience. Know where they hang out and give them something that will make them feel and want to share and act.
Key takeaways from day one
Sophie Bennett, business director