Digital Doesn’t Have To Be Scary
If you have not yet seen Google’s Project Re:Brief, then I strongly encourage you to give it a watch and fire out an all-staff email when you’re done. It’s a brilliant project that brings some of advertising’s most iconic ad men and women back to re-imagine their best spots with today’s bleeding-edge technology.
It’s the perfect fusion of product development, advertising, history, and digital can-do. Exactly the kind of thing designed to be shared and empower your creative juices.
That’s why we’re not going to talk about creativity.
No one will deny that the mojo moving our business is creativity. It’s what we celebrate at award shows and what gets repeated around the water cooler. Honestly, if you debate the value of creativity in the advertising business, there’s a good chance you’ve picked the wrong industry to make your mark – it’s at the core of everything we do.
Instead, let’s look at what makes Google’s Project Re:Brief so inherently creative.
All of the right ingredients are baked into the brief. It empowers some of the best creative minds to push that creativity forward – because with a great strategic brief, digital doesn’t have to be scary.
A Targeted Audience
Google needs you; it needs advertisers, marketers and the huge wins that come from big brand media purchasing. Even given a healthy margin of error, you can see the value of major brands and keywords in the following infographics from WordStream:
Over $30 billion – and about 97% of revenue – comes from its ad platforms. Google craves innovative, branded, and share-worthy uses of its technology. For Google to continue to grow, it needs engaging and creative ads. With that much money on the line, you better believe that Google has a vested interest in your passion for digital advertising.
You, My Marketing Friends, Are One Of The Hardest Audiences To Reach
Microsoft wants you at its advertising parties – which, on a personal note, are amazing.
Your post-production company is always ready to rock an open bar around Christmas, and I’m betting that by your fifth year in this business, you’ll have drunk your body weight on the tab of a major OOH media company.
Blessed be, ye catering crews.
If Google’s goal is to cut through the cocktail clutter – and maybe teach you a thing or two in the process – then they need to prove that creativity drives clicks.
The Psychology of Digital Anxiety
We all suffer from digital anxiety, regardless of our respective places in the industry.
Marketers and agencies have pushed clients to adopt digital.
Clients have pushed agencies to bring them digital ideas.
COOs have had heart attacks paying recruiters to create internal digital design and development teams for agencies.
UX and digital experience shops have lost their minds with limited client access and their names kept out of Cannes.
Media companies are juggling fragmentation and lower cost-per-impressions in almost every impressions category.
And poor old HR is doing so much digital poaching that they should be wearing pith helmets.
As everyone races to stay relevant, digital innovation plows forward.
With 26 million iPhones sold in the second quarter of 2012 alone, it’s easy to feel like John Henry fighting a mean old steel-driving machine.
I work every day in an environment where the future of the web is made. There’s a subtle undertone of F.O.M.O. (Fear of Missing Out) that’s ever-present in the air, as everyone checks into development, startup, and industry trade publications, looking to stay on top of the next big innovation.
Like Google’s ad revenue, the digital space is growing – and the “What’s Next?!” anxiety is not going away.
Forming a Creative Strategy
You couldn’t ask for a better challenge.
A business (Google) that wants to reach a highly valuable target market (marketers) in a crowded category.
A target market (marketers) with mixed anxiety and optimism about the product (digital ad units).
A distribution model that needs to be purely digital (product-market fit).
A model that should use existing contacts to boost social discovery (leverage brand partnerships).
A model that should provide evergreen value (be as valuable in two years as it is today).
All of this, with a tone that should alleviate anxiety and position Google as a one-stop shop for what’s next.
It’s emotional, empowering, and simply brilliant:
“Bring back some of the best advertisers in the world to re-imagine their best creative work with today’s technology.”
It’s as deep as an ocean but fits on a napkin. The result of a watertight strategy.
Project Re:Brief is a moving tale with a moral:
That ideas still drive the creative business of advertising – and with Google’s help, even an 80-year-old ad man/woman can adapt.
The Take Away
Great ideas will always be needed in advertising.
Strategy will never be the same.
Driven by new technology, insights, and consumer needs, it is a product of observation of the human condition. It calls out all that changes, all that remains the same, and how great creative should seek to sell the fantastic as well as the mundane.
So, to all of you reading this today:
Keep honing your creative chops. (That still wins awards.)
Just start really considering your project briefs. Somewhere a strategist is killing himself to give you the opportunity.
Should you find a creative idea whose strategy you desperately want to understand, fire off a tweet to the team @advertisingweek and maybe we’ll dissect it the next time we look at “Digital Doesn’t Have To Be Scary”.
Ryan Thomas is a Managing Partner and Earned Media Strategist at Playground Inc.
He lives and dies by a single motto: Be Social, Be Digital, Be Newsworthy. He’s still living.