The Business of Creativity
Creative business is something that’s not readily understood. For most businesses, being creative implies new strategies, doing things differently and implementing some or other change. Here, two businesses with creativity at their core share their insights.
So, what are creative businesses? Even the all-knowing Google brings up business cases of such changes and implementations when a search for ‘creative business’ is requested. Anyone in the know will immediately call to mind marketing, communications and/or advertising agencies.
Globally-renowned agency, TBWA, define themselves as ‘The Disruption Company’ that develops business-changing, culture-defining and award-winning ideas for brands. Between deadlines, Noah Khan, TBWA’s Regional President of Digital & Innovation for Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the Middle East and Africa, shared some insights and advice for businesses wishing to engage creatively with the market.
Noah has worked in the digital space for more than 18 years. He’s led global organisations to reach their digital and social goals across online and mobile through innovation and ground breaking solutions.
Beyond your ‘About’ page, what should the world know about TBWA?
We are the Disruption® Company. It’s important to understand that Disruption® for TBWA is a positive force. It’s our strategic approach and way of thinking that pushes us to defy conventions and create a new vision for a brand that will help it gain a greater share of the future. We also apply this way of thinking to every aspect of our company, from our creative work and talent to our business offerings.
Today there are more conventions in advertising than ever before – the same ideas blending into a forgettable sea of sameness, all this at a time when it’s never been easier to avoid advertising. It takes something different to break through this reality. This is why we believe Disruption® has never been more relevant.
The creative business is something that is not readily understood by outsiders. What, in your view, makes the industry unique?
It is the openness around people, cultures and great ideas that sets our industry apart. I don’t think there are very many industries that encourage outlandish, boundary pushing thinking as much as creative businesses do.
That sounds incredibly exciting, but somewhat daunting too. What are the positives and challenges of being in the creative industry?
The positives include open collaboration; seeing things very differently to conventional thinking; and trying to create incredible, brave work. The challenge is that some don’t recognise the value in the product we produce, and, in turn, we risk being seen as a commodity.
It’s true that we live in a world where virality is achieved by non-professionals who are ordinary people producing self-generated content. What is TBWA’s winning formula to keeping audiences engaged?
Our formula is to work in-sync with culture. Understanding our audience enables us to create work that resonates. We are also incredibly open and collaborate with makers across multiple spaces to produce the best work for our brands.
We also benefit from Backslash, TBWA’s cultural insights studio. Backslash investigates culture shifts and trends, and then translates what they mean for brands and businesses.
We do this by leveraging an internal ‘spotter’ network of over 200 TBWA employees who report on trends from more than 50 countries around the world. The Backslash team then publishes daily, original video content on how culture is changing, and what it means for the future, which helps to inform and inspire our creative work.
How do you go about planning in this dynamic reality?
We develop deep audience understanding and build our thinking around the end user, this allows us to create greater engagement at every stage of the journey.
Earning an audience’s attention in a multimedia, digitally-savvy age, is hard work. What is TBWA’s advice to clients in adapting to the digital age?
My advice would be to create digital work that is native and true to the platform. Your audience will appreciate and engage with it. Adapting traditional work for digital platforms lacks authenticity and is destined to fail.
What is the main influence of your online marketing strategy/strategies?
It is culture, being able to bring Disruption® to life daily allows us to bring our clients into a space where they are being relevant to the audience all the time.
Client strategies aside, how does TBWA market itself?
It is our work and our people. Our work shows our brave creativity and our incredible people say more about our collective than any marketing could.
While TBWA and their competitors have been at it for a number of years and have a solid reputation in the industry having progressed through various changes, South African agency Loudest Noises (LN) is just starting out in the industry. The startup agency’s expert marketing specialist and founding partner, Natalie Jardine, shared their take on things.
Beyond your ‘About’ page, what should the world know about LN?
Loudest Noises is built on the principles of the 4 Cs – commitment, calm, consideration and consistency. We turn brands ‘up to eleven’ without being platform specific. We simply find a solution to your problem and turn it into an opportunity to create beautiful communication material for our client’s clients.
What makes the creative business industry unique?
The publicity industry is especially unique as brands start understanding the unique offering of publicity strategy – creating stories to support journalists and sharing information that adds value to the end client, regardless of the platform. Furthermore, ‘creative’ doesn’t always mean artwork and copywriting. A creative PR and marketing execution serves to enhance the brand’s share of voice through a campaign.
What are the positives and challenges of being in the creative industry?
The industry is at such an exciting time where we’re forecasting the return of bespoke print material in a big way whereas before print was considered to be passé. We’re seeing the continued integration of VR in experiential media and an even stronger focus on real-time communication. The options that platforms like TikTok, IGTV, Instastories and the growth of Whatsapp really allows for more targeted conversation planning.
On the downside, struggling markets bring about the usual problem of budget. Some clients are still putting most of their budget behind television commercials. While advertising agencies are aware that they need to expand their offer to include through-the-line and below-the-line elements, they still don’t follow the customer-led principle of ‘The Big Idea’ first, then the message, then the appropriate platforms where the target audience can be found.
The Jupiter Drawing Room – founded in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1989 and now operating in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and Zambia – is one of the few agencies that really get this right. Their ability to adapt over the years and creating a truly integrated form of client service has allowed the agency to not only move with the times, but also show their ability to identify trends. We have recently joined their team on certain PR projects, for example, because they have identified Loudest Noises can fulfil the below- and through- the line needs of the brand.
Earning audience’s attention in a multimedia, digitally-savvy age, is hard work. What is LN’s advice to clients in adapting to the digital age?
K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid). Because digital is a very busy space, keeping the message as simple and clear as possible helps. From a strategy or campaign point of view, ensuring your team or staff are well informed goes a long way. For example, affirming the reputation dangers of Facebook posts about the workplace, brand and world news highlights everyone’s role in the PR reality. Mistakes can happen quite quickly if your team is uninformed.
In a world where virality is achieved by non-professionals through self-generated content, what is LN’s winning formula to keeping audiences engaged?
We create content that impacts the audience in a meaningful and lasting way. We are very focused on building long-term brand equity on a variety of platforms, without forgetting the impact of surprise and humour, when the brand lends itself to that of course.
How do you go about planning in this dynamic reality?
Of course, we do a lot of groundwork, looking into varying research and data sources to really understand our clients and their clients. We further test and learn as we go because, though a strategy is put in place, it’s tracked and reviewed constantly as the target audience, market and client business moves. It’s a journey.
What’s the main influence of your online marketing strategies?
The audience. Simply remember that more platforms create more opportunities to share meaningful information with your audience. When choosing platforms, we spend a significant amount of time researching where our clients’ target markets can be reached and where they would be most amenable to our clients’ message.
Client strategies aside, how does LN market itself?
The proof is in the pudding. In our industry you’re only as good as your last campaign. Happy clients are the greatest reward but also the greatest marketing tool.
Main photo by davisco on Unsplash