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Math men vs mad men? Or renaissance men

Awards are all about creativity, but clients are paying for results. Creativity in the traditional sense of the meaning does not apply to the world we live in today and it is no longer the monopoly of advertising agencies...

So says Hando Sinisalu, co-author of The Storybook 2, The Best of Global Digital Marketing. Recently in South Africa, he says if work is awarded in creative shows then it is highly likely that that work is effective or good for business. "So creative work is effective - but not always."

The Crispin Porter + Bogusky (CP+B) 2009 Burger King Whopper Sacrifice Facebook campaign that won every award including a Titanium Lion. "However they lost the account and the brand lost market share to Wendy's. It was a complete disaster. So was it really effective? Yet, still today it is presented as the perfect advertising campaign."

What is creative is changing, he says, and we cannot think of creativity in the traditional and narrow sense (artistic), rather we need to take a broader view and that it is how you solve a problem. "So the creative solution to a business problem can lie in big data and while the execution may not be very exciting, the strategy is."

Math men vs mad men? Or renaissance men
©Galina Peshkova via 123RF

For example Google ads target people who are already interested in that service or product. The chances are that they will visit the website and purchase the product if they view the ad at that time. That is creative.

It could also be creating a service or product. "This year in Cannes several agencies presented products they had created. CP+B, for example, launched a premium rum. Agencies core competencies lie in marketing and communication so they teamed up with a distillery and distributor, forming a company. The product has proved so popular that they have sold it."

Agencies across the globe are taking up this new role, he says. "It does imply that the agencies must be willing to take a financial risk. It does mean that agencies need to be brave and creative and not conservative. They need to test and what they tell their clients in a real market with their own money."

The tech world and the advertising world are merging. "I hear Martin Sorrell talking about this math man vs mad men. I interview many creatives from all across the globe and I have come to realise that they do not care about results. They talk creative. If you want to talk results talk to the accounts people.

"However an agency that works on the model that it is team working towards improving a client's business is the agency that will be successful. I am not sure why - or when - the separation of the creative and the science came about, but the world is moving back to this. Perhaps it is not a case of the mad men vs the math men but a case of the Renaissance man."

There appears to be a rising trend of companies taking their marketing in-house, away from agencies.

The old thinking was campaign driven, for example a Xmas campaign, so it was easy to outsource to an agency he says. "You had time to palm and prepare, to choose and buy media etc. It worked. Now marketing is 24/7 and you have no time to do all of those things. If you have a marketing problem then you have to solve it quickly and doing this through another party might not be the most efficient form."

He quotes President, Sparkling Brands & Strategic Marketing, Coca-Cola North America, Wendy Clark who said that the 1985 New Coke firestorm took several months to fix when it happened, but if that happened today the brand would have three days to solve it before the public destroyed the brand. "Today is about real time so agencies need to have a broader vision and the way they operate will have to change."

About Hando Sinisalu
A marketing journalist, researcher and conference producer. He has produced programmes for over 100 marketing conferences during his career in 20+ countries ranging from Finland to South Africa, Netherlands to Indonesia. He collects and analyses digital marketing case studies, is the producer of The Best of Global Digital Marketing Show and editor of IAB/Emerce DAY 2013 Book. He is the co- founder of the first commercial radio station in Estonia, has worked as publisher of the biggest daily newspaper in Tallinn. He has MA degree in Communications from Ohio University (USA).

About Danette Breitenbach

Danette Breitenbach is a marketing & media editor at Previously she freelanced in the marketing and media sector, including for Bizcommunity. She was editor and publisher of AdVantage, the publication that served the marketing, media and advertising industry in southern Africa. She has worked extensively in print media, mainly B2B. She has a Masters in Financial Journalism from Wits.

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