Where inspiration and information collide

Amidst the talk of artificial intelligence and virtual reality at the Cannes Lions Innovation Festival earlier this year, data was a hot topic. Specifically: how we can use data to drive creativity. In a move that showcases its growing importance, ‘Creative Data’ was given its own award category for the first time. Back in London, in November Grey appointed a ‘Creative Technologist’ to its executive creative team – the first time a major agency has done so.

Digital is my bag, so naturally I think all this is great news. But let’s not get carried away. Can data drive creativity? As a tool, yes. As a master, no.

Creativity is something that is conceived by people, with the aim of provoking an emotional response in other people. To create something that has meaning and relevance takes empathy, an understanding of culture, artistic flair, and more besides. Data… well, data just doesn’t get that.

We’ve started scratching the surface of how we can use data to help us conceive wonderful, amazing ideas. British Airways #lookup campaign is perhaps the most famous example of the magic that lies at the intersection of data and creativity. Meanwhile, retail, luxury and travel brands are increasingly using data to deliver highly personalised experiences for customers. (Although, as this recent article in AdWeek argues, there’s a fine line between being helpful and being creepy.)

Creativity is inspiration. Data is information. Creative data is a new frontier that’s full of possibilities, most of which we haven’t even thought of yet. It’s a big old sandbox. There’s room for everybody.

Written by Brett Melvill-Smith

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