Sharp Thoughts from Advertising Week

by Sharp | October 9, 2012

Advertising Week #AWIX

Last week the Sharp team took to NY Advertising Week with enthusiasm, hitting up events around the city where agency pros, media personalities, CEOs and brand leaders shared insights and perspectives on everything from digital trends to talent management to creativity.  Kim, Bob, Aidan and Laura ran around town over the past few days, and came back with a few interesting areas of trending tensions:

Data Love vs. Data Overload

With Big Data on seemingly everyone’s lips these days, it was no surprise to see metrics, data and measurement in full force across a ton of sessions. What we found interesting (and something we talk about internally here at Sharp), is the conflict and compatibility between analytics and creative.  While on one hand we have predictive analytics as quite possibly the “perfect media tool” (in the words of the venerable Chuck Porter), on the other hand we have creative concepting and storytelling, which often relies on the unpredictable and emotional triggers that are hard to quantify.  CP+B’s Ivan Perez Armendariz brought this front and center, laughing about Condescending Corporate Brand Page and the dangers that come with creating content for Facebook’s EdgeRank.  When it comes down to it, we know that data is driving accountability for clients, is helping us optimize and edit, and is helping us reach the right people in the right places.  But when it comes to creating campaigns that resonate, there is still much to be said for intuition, creativity and thinking outside the numbers.

Storytelling vs. The Big Idea

Playing off imagination, several seminars that Bob attended focused upon imaginative thinking from the perspective of groundbreaking campaigns.  “7 Stories that rule the world” by TBWA, “Big Swingers” by 72 and Sunny and “How the F#$% did they sell that” by Mekaniasm all hit home the importance of big concepts shared through cultural tensions and microphones.  From KIA hamsters to the Samsung Mac bashing and the Skittles Rainbow, some of the nations top leading creative talent and their clients shared success stories and what it took to make it happen.  They all carried consistent threads of trust, risk-taking and a focus on results.

Culturally relevant and targeted storytelling with bold execution was at the core of these success stories, with multi-platform experiences and tailored creative.  Another example that drove home this point was Bill Ludwig’s experience with the US Navy (CEO Connectors panel).   Through their research (back to data!), The US Navy saw that Mom’s were often a main barrier to enrollment because they didn’t really understand what life was like in the Navy.  To counteract this, they created a Mom’s Navy Group which now has 80,000 members in which they facilitated conversation among moms to help quell their fears. During this time, they also developed custom videos and content, which was pushed across various channels.  Identifying the right messages and telling a cohesive story across this range of media types was paramount to their success.

Talent vs. Technology

Ad Week also becomes a platform for agencies to talk about the business of advertising, and we saw CEO panels and “Conversation with …” series that gave us a peek inside the curtain at agency growth, challenges and keys to success. Across several sessions was the topic of talent – of finding, cultivating, keeping and growing strong talent – which to us was a nice transition from conversations over the past several years that all too often focused purely on tech.  In a conversation focused on barriers we face in the industry, technology was positioned as a barrier to good ideas. Arianna Huffington posited that we as an industry are too hyper-connected and that the agencies that are able to foster more quiet and “disconnectivity” will be the most successful moving forward.

Sure we need smart technology to help us do our jobs, but we also need strong talent to get the most out of that technology – after all, smart team members can adapt concepts to multiple media.  We saw agencies across the board moving away from a focus on the ‘shiny new things’ and moving toward using these technologies in smart, strategic ways.

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