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Magic Numbers: Finding the ‘Magic Formula’ with Kari King

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Executive creative director at TrackDDB on how there isn’t a one-fits-all solution to global strategy when it comes to privacy

Magic Numbers: Finding the ‘Magic Formula’ with Kari King

Kari King has over a decade of experience in the digital, direct, and data-driven creative arena. She started as a copywriter specialising in retail e-commerce, but then quickly moved through the advertising ranks working on campaigns for Nissan, Infiniti, McDonald’s, Nestle, CIBC, Tourism Ontario, Volkswagen, Samsung, and Scotiabank. Her passion lies in bringing the right message to the right consumer on behalf of brands. Her work has been honoured at the CMA Awards, Echo Awards, Webby Awards and more.


LBB> What’s the number one question that clients are coming to you with when it comes to how they can better use data to enhance the creativity of their content and experiences?

Kari> Clients want to know if there is a magic formula, a combination of data and creativity, that will make their media dollars go further. But even with access to all their owned data, there’s only so much a creative team can do without partnering with talented and skilled analysts. You can’t skip steps, and you can’t just include the words 'data' and 'creativity' in the brief and hope it’ll conjure up impressive results. It takes skill, insight, knowledge, and experience, not to mention teamwork. It also takes bravery on the part of clients. 


LBB> How can you make sure that data is elevating creative rather than forming a wind tunnel effect and knocking all the interesting or unique edges off that make something distinctive?

Kari> That’s an interesting metaphor! I’ve never thought about data being a factor that reduces distinctiveness in creative work, but the opposite. How many times have you seen mass awareness work that feels recycled or feels safe? All the time. When you can use a powerful data-led insight to foster an iterative creative idea, you can produce not just distinctive work but work that can change, grow, and evolve dynamically in real time. No wind tunnels in sight! 


LBB> Can you share with us any examples of projects you’ve worked on where the data really helped boost the creative output in a really exciting way?

Kari> For our client, JetBlue Airways, we partnered with them on a personalised, email-led campaign with the objective of thanking customers for their loyalty.  For this project, we utilised owned data to illustrate that JetBlue truly knows their customers on a significantly deeper level than previous end-of-year communication, and ultimately drove customers to a designated CTA. Creatively we were given the freedom to take things in a different direction and we elevated the communication with data-filled complexity that was breathtaking.  By leveraging an unprecedented amount of personalised data, we created millions of possible unique permutations, all expertly designed to flow together, tell a compelling story, look beautiful and most importantly drive bookings. (Link to the case study)

On the more qualitative side, we’re currently working on an exciting project for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Canada, which supports families while their sick child is being treated at a nearby hospital.  Here, we’ve taken some compelling insights surrounding impact and are using those stats to empower Canadians to share stories of precious family moments. 


LBB> More brands are working to create their own first party data practice - how can a brand figure out whether that’s something that is relevant or important for their business? 

Kari> As we start to enter a cookie-regulated age, there are few businesses that can rely on just targeting outwardly versus looking inwardly at their existing base to build community through owned channels and managing first party data. First party data is a powerful tool that provides insights about customers to help brands deliver meaningful, personalised experiences.


LBB> We talk about data driving creativity, but what are your thoughts about approaching the use of data in a creative way?

Kari> Creativity is a super agnostic word. There isn’t much that you can do that can’t be done creativity. You can fold laundry creatively. The people who can creatively train machine-learning models to look for exciting new correlations might be some of the most valuable creative minds out there right now.


LBB> "Lies, damned lies, and statistics" - how can brands and creative make sure that they’re really seeing what they think they’re seeing (or want to see) in the data, or that they’re not misusing data?

Kari> It starts and ends with test and learn. You keep yourself honest by testing your theories and learning from the real results to implement change.


LBB> What are your thoughts about trust in data - to what extent is uncertainty and a lack of trust in data (or data sources) an issue and what are your thoughts on that?

Kari> I think it’s healthy to look deeper at something that you mistrust. It’s a sign that possible corners were cut, or assumptions were made. Perhaps you are relying on leads to perform in an expected way but with a less generous value exchange? 


LBB> With so many different regulatory systems in different markets regarding data and privacy around the world - as well as different cultural views about privacy - what’s the key to creating a joined-up data strategy at a global level that’s also adaptable to local nuances?

Kari> There isn’t a one-fits-all solution to global strategy when it comes to privacy. It’s a one-fits-most at best. I think you need to rely on local experts and research, so either expanding your organisation into identified key regions or partnering up with local shops or consultants to let them finesse the strategy to work for their market.


LBB> What does a responsible data practice look like?

Kari> It proves to the consumer that their personal data is valuable and will be treated as such through transparent policies and a meaningful exchange of brand services for that data.


LBB> In your view, what’s the biggest misconception people have around the use of data in marketing?

Kari> I’d like to answer this with my creative director hat on securely. There are two viewpoints that I encounter regularly in the advertising world and unfortunately the truth of what I do lies somewhere in-between. The first is that we must be working on the next cutting-edge data-led creative campaign. I wish! The second is that my team must be just churning out email channel creative. While we are always hungry for something juicy, there is immense satisfaction to be found in producing highly effective work that is creatively smart and sound. 


LBB> In terms of live issues in the field, what are the debates or developments that we should be paying attention to right now?

Kari> I think everyone is glued to their feed when it comes to the recent mind-blowing advancement in AI. We know we are at the brink of major industry change. I think successful brands and people will be part of leading that change. We also tend to jump and make sweeping predictions based on these kinds of exciting leaps in technology. I’m very curious to see how intellectual property and copyrights will be managed moving forward. And I’m excited to see how human-led creativity will advance because of these helpful tools. 

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DDB Canada - Toronto, Wed, 01 Mar 2023 12:00:00 GMT