June 9, 2017
In Part 1 of a series in conjunction with the 64th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Bloomberg Media Global Chief Creative Officer Teddy Lynn examines a changing creative landscape with Jae Goodman, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Head, CAA Marketing and President of the inaugural Entertainment Lions jury (on which Lynn also served).
Teddy Lynn: Jae, you were my first ever client in this business and the single person from whom I have learned the most about what I do. Thanks for talking to me about this.
We have both been operating at the intersection of advertising and entertainment for more than 15 years. From your perspective how has the landscape changed creatively? Of course formats have changed, but has there been a more fundamental shift?
Jae Goodman: Hmm.. I think it depends on three things: 1. The individual creative professional. 2. The organization or geographic region within which that creative professional sits. 3. The brands with which the creative professional works.
Taking them in order…
1. The individual creative professional. You and I, Teddy, have a personal/professional love affair with the idea that brands can and should create content and experiences that attract an audience rather than interrupt it. However, the numbers are stacked against us! Film Lions – meaning the award ceremony entirely for television commercials (TVCs) – will still be the hottest ticket in Cannes this year. The marketing world will want to know “what the best commercial” was.
There is an entire jury just for the craft of making a TV commercial. And the vast majority of major brands’ media money – despite what we read about digital and mobile eating the world – will still be spent on interruptive television advertising.
This does not point to a fundamental shift.
2. The organization or geographic region within which that creative professional sits. Let’s assume for a moment that you work at an ad agency whose global infrastructure was built to support an interruptive ad model. Will it appear from this perspective that a fundamental shift is afoot? Unlikely. If you work in an agency born in an “emerging” market with a far better mobile network than TV network, will it appear that there has been a fundamental shift toward mobile? I say unlikely again.
3. The brands with which the creative professional works. Some brands want to change the way they behave, because they know their audience is behaving differently. And some brands do not. Many of us are too comfortable marketing the same old way, using “new” measurement tools to measure the same old inefficient media model against itself and then convincing ourselves that slight improvements within a broken system are better than being the brand to break the system.
If your clients fall into the latter category, all you see is a brief that says “just make some TVCs, please, but try to make them out-perform the last batch of TVCs, and the batch before that.” If the brands in the former category are your clients then you sense a fundamental shift.
I guess that whole three-part monologue really comes down to this: metaphorical landscapes share a commonality with physical landscapes: perspective matters.
My opinion is that not enough marketers are operating from the perspective that we need to create positive experiences for consumers rather than bombard them with interruptive advertising.
TL: Early on in our field, it was sufficient to be intuitive, have unusual ideas and be a strong salesman to get stuff made, but now there are literally thousands of people in “content marketing” and whole conferences and award shows dedicated to it. Have you found that this change makes it easier to do the kind of work you have always wanted to? Has it changed what you consider truly creative in our field?
JG: The word “content” has come to have a very broad definition and many definitions. I think this is a good thing. I love a brief that asks for “content” and does not define it. I do not love a “content studio” or “content agency” that is actually a digital publishing outlet or social media specialist.
Now, to answer your question about what it means to be truly creative in our field, I think that the boundaries of creativity within marketing have expanded vastly. The art of the possible used to be a headline, tagline, look and feel, a few proven media formats. Now the art of the possible is “Dumb Ways to Die” or a feature film from the Greek chocolate brand Lacta, or a bi-lingual Chinese-English scripted short film written by an Academy Award winner and starring global movie stars.
There has never been a better time to be creative in our industry or any other but it’s harder than ever, because creative business solutions can now come in so many forms.
TL: I am now the lead creative at a data driven organization known for delivering business news and yet I am tasked with creating content for brands. This is obviously a signal that channels, media consumption and the roles of brand advertisers are all changing. As channels have proliferated and data, both as a source of briefs and the measurement of success, has become such a huge part of what we do, how do you view your role as a creative as having changed?
JG: I just love the way you put that: “…data, as both a source of briefs and a measurement of success.” It answers your question.
As creatives, we must insist on data-informed briefs. If we are being asked to change a behavior with creativity then we need to know as much as possible about current behavior. Briefs have to be driven by data and, importantly, very specific, articulate and agreed-upon interpretations of that data.
Don’t show me the data – show me what the data means. Show me which data-points, if moved significantly, will drive the brand and business results we seek. Then, when it comes to measurement, we can first jump past the data to see how our campaign is affecting the business, and only after that dig back into the data to understand how and why our campaign is or is not performing against our business objectives.
TL: I think that almost nothing trumps a good idea in marketing. Do you share this view?
JG: Ideas lead everything. A killer strategy, a killer media plan, a killer TVC, a killer music-driven animated short… all ideas. I have never met the team who had a guy in a gorilla suit play the drum solo to Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight.” That’s an idea.
TL: Since we are in Cannes this week celebrating the most creative work in the world, I would be remiss in not asking you to call out a favorite couple of examples of work, or dare I say content, that in your opinion represent the most evolved work being made today.
JG: I just love what General Electric has done in VR. There is a moment in one VR experience wherein you are walking on a forest trail with a robot dog – this is live-action VR not animation and it is a real robot dog. I had a quietly beautiful, almost meditative, emotionally compelling moment on a walk in the woods with a dog, who happens to be a robot, in a VR experience from GE! That moment for me was such a powerful expression of GE’s brand promise and the engineering and ingenuity behind that promise.
To find out more about how creativity can drive your business, send us an email.