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The Influencers

Why Magic and Machines Need to Work Together in the Age of Data Marketing

In The Company Of Huskies’ David Hayes says data and creativity can and must work in harmony as adland moves forward

Why Magic and Machines Need to Work Together in the Age of Data Marketing

Recently, communication and marketing consultant, Ian Leslie wrote a piece for the New Statesman - The Death of Don Draper. He describes the ‘ad industry’ as "a field of applied artistry, a next-door neighbour to the entertainment industry. Though it often fails, it aspires to surprise, charm, move and delight people on behalf of its clients”. Whereas the ‘ad business’, as an entity, he says “is obsessed with data science, and distrusts the messy stuff of story, image and idea.”

This dichotomy reflects the perceived tension between creativity and data in marketing. A perspective which is accompanied by a misconception that data inhibits creativity.

However, as we know data is playing a more important role in advertising today from both informing the idea and helping it propagate. In a world saturated with content and communication you need the ability to cut through the noise and reach the heart of what is driving people’s decision-making process. While data can help do this by providing us with intelligence, creativity provides us with the emotion that when combined can create effective advertising and campaigns.

All good creatives worth their salt understand that the foundation of great work is a great brief. Great briefs come from great planning and a great planner has the ability to sift through the information and data available to them. This enables a compelling insight that unlocks great creative ideas which, in turn, will unlock business growth. 

We’re looking at a complex advertising future; consumers are seeking out ad-free content and platforms. That’s not to mention that the next generation of consumers which will grow up with us over the next 10-20 years are viewing and consuming content in an entirely different manner to what we’ve been used to for the past 50 years. As marketers we need to be able to keep up with data-capabilities and technologies and be ready to adapt at any moment. 

Contrary to typical agency models, Huskies was conceived digital-first before incorporating creative capabilities. A combination of ‘magic and machines’ is in our DNA and whilst creativity is of course the keystone to creative excellence, digital technologies and data are providing us with greater intelligence, targeting, delivery and measurement capabilities.

The digital team, which is comprised of search, social, performance media and analytics, now provide additional data points that were not previously available in the past. This can be anything from consumer information to channel information, business insights or what the current cultural zeitgeist is at the moment. Right from the get-go, we are feeding into the planning and creative outputs. In addition, when it comes to the execution and management, we are there all along the consumer journey, ensuring that the creative idea is delivering on the business goals from a performance point of view.

Our campaign for Nissan Ireland ‘No More Nice Car’ is a perfect example and validation of the power of Magic and Machines. We took on the campaign in 2017 when Nissan Micras had not only an unshakeable rep as ‘the granny car’ but when the market for new cars in Ireland was in decline.

Our task was to reposition the car with a younger audience, recruit new customers and double sales. With the use of data, we mapped out the consumer journey and defined a detailed through the line strategy. We created an online lead film that spoke to a local audience and showed the 'defiant' personality of the new Micra through a short film that was inspired by people’s old attitudes and how these preconceptions resulted in it being prematurely judged.

Over the course of the campaign, the film earned an incredible 1,320,000 video views. Social mentions increased by 102.87%, website sessions increased by 334.4%, page views by 79% and brochure downloads increased by +398% YOY. In the end, Nissan doubled its market share from 5% to 10% in Ireland, outperforming all other European markets. Because of these results, it won the Grand Prix at Ireland’s ADFX Awards in Sept of this year.   

If we aspire to surprise, charm, move and delight consumers – as all good advertising should – in this ever more complicated landscape, then advertisers must stop treating ‘data’ different from ‘artistry’. They are one and the same thing and if they are considered so, there’s not only opportunity to create effective advertising that cuts to the heart of emotional consumer behaviour but an opportunity to be prepared for the complex future on our horizons. 

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