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Brand Activator/ General Management

A Creative Renaissance In Full Swing

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by Tom Stein
Chief Executive Officer
Stein IAS (Americas)

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I recently had the pleasure of participating in the development of the BMA Go and Grow Conference, “Transformations: Now & Next.” In helping to think through the program, I suggested a title for a session focused on creative transformations that I thought would prove quite provocative.

The title: "Creativity: Renaissance or Retreat?" The thesis: that the growing impacts of technology and “big data” might potentially undermine creativity as we in the agency and marketing worlds know and understand it today.

The good news: My provocative thesis wasn’t terribly provocative.

The excellent and extremely thoughtful creative leaders who participated in the session–Rei Inamoto, chief creative officer at AKQA; Gary Koepke, vice president, global executive creative director at SapientNitro; and John Patroulis, chief creative officer at BBH–each landed squarely in the “renaissance” camp.

All three spoke of an expanded palette–tools, channels, technologies–that actually enable more compelling brand storytelling. They spoke of the opportunity to create brand experiences that offer more meaningful value. Rather than shy away from the impetus for accountability and measurement, they embrace it as a challenge to be met–creatively.

My colleagues and I at Stein + Partners Brand Activation (SPBA), together with our extended colleagues throughout the Business Branding Network (BBN), couldn’t agree more. Our approach is a creative quest for “the big, long idea.”

We believe that ideas big enough to achieve brand and demand objectives across multiple channels–and elastic enough to extend and evolve over time–are mandatory in modern marketing.

To be sure, the challenges are great: A torrent of data that needs to be turned into something meaningfully human and personal. Technology-infused media that pushes brands’ relationships with customers toward an authenticity that “is forcing a deep examination of what the very purpose of a brand even is,” as Jeff Pundyk describes in this CMO.com post about the conference. A move from “promotion to education” that is transforming brands into content marketers, as Wendy Marx describes in her Fast Company post about the conference. And a blurring of long-held media principles of church and state.

Today, an upcoming generation of wonderfully peripatetic creative minds is embracing the challenge and creating in amazing ways. Parsing the data to find its human essence. Telling brand stories and creating brand experiences that add value to customers’ lives.

So challenge accepted. Game on. And a creative renaissance in full swing.

About Tom Stein

The authors of the Brand Activator blog are from Stein IAS (Americas), New York, BtoB Magazine 2013 Agency of the Year.

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