WPI Global Summit Highlights the Connection Between Creativity and Data in Advertising

Right brain, left brain. Emotional, rational. Creativity, data. Culture, code. Art, science.

However you choose to phrase it, there’s no denying the two halves that make up the whole of advertising. For centuries, creativity and data have been used in tandem to create experiences, drive cultural movements and sell products. Today, with technology skyrocketing toward singularity, reality skewed by augmentation and smart devices in every nook and cranny, this interconnection of art and science has never been more apparent, nor more exciting!

This excitement could be felt at Worldwide Partners’ Global Summit in Miami last week. Independent agency partners from around the globe gathered at the Betsy Hotel in South Beach and Miami Ad School to discuss this intersection of creativity and data, and identify innovative ways to leverage these two sides to truly connect with today’s consumers and drive business results for their clients.

Throughout the three day conference, attendees heard from award-winning advertisers, subject-matter experts and innovative WPI agency partners, providing inspiration and real-world experience in leveraging technology to tap into emotions and better connect with humans. While the overarching theme of the event was “Art + Science,” a few key concepts stood out:

It’s Not An Internet of Things, It’s an Internet of EVERYthing

David Shing, Digital Prophet at Oath, shared his revelations on the future of the digital landscape, which for most people around the globe, means the future of our lives, our society, our world. While some of his premonitions are foreboding–like how brand competition is only growing as YouTubers, bloggers, influencers, DJs and anyone with a smartphone and an opinion are diverting consumers’ attention–they’re also rooted in concepts we know well. Such as, “nothing is more powerful than the actual experience of a brand,” and “we’re still in the business of sight and motion to create emotion.” And no matter how many gadgets are invented and how intelligent they get, that will never change.

Technology is also taking well-known, established mediums, and turning them into innovative and powerful platforms. Gustavo Ross, CEO of partner agency ActivaMente in Mexico, shared how they have turned age-old vending machines into experiential marketing campaigns that create awareness, drive social conversations, build brand loyalty and ultimately drive sales.

Rick Robinson, managing partner with Billups, the largest U.S. independent full-service out-of-home media (OOH) specialist agency and sponsor of the Global Summit, explained how technology and innovation are causing a significant rise in OOH. Not only is technology allowing OOH to be more efficient and cost-effective, it’s also lead to this medium being labelled as “chill” by millennials.


WPI agency Mintz + Hoke, explained how they use technology and digital sources to promote traditional trade show events. “Media blurs the lines of art + science. Skewed too heavily in either direction you can lose effectiveness,” said Sara-Beth Donovan, Principal at Mintz + Hoke. By balancing paid, owned and earned media before, during and after the event, they create seamless and successful brand campaigns for clients across the globe.

Science Creates Unity Across Campaigns & Teams

For some, the ubiquity of data can be overwhelming and detrimental to efficacy and performance. Not if you have the right team though. Speaking on a panel about how data impacts account planning, Viveca Chan of  WPI agency WE Marketing Group, Ed Cotton of WPI agency Butler Shine Stern and Partners and Meg Kinney of The Bad Babysitters ethnography firm agreed that the account planning team of the future needs a conductor–a generalist knowledgeable in both the art and the science–data people and social media people to ensure “diversity in thinking.”

Brian Wong, Co-Founder & CEO of Kiip and author of The Cheat Code agreed. He explained how data is bringing all of these once-siloed teams–research and development, operations, merchandising, customers service, marketing, advertising, public relations and on and on–together and working toward a single goal.

Programmatic advertising was a major topic of discussion throughout the Summit, and one of our sponsors knows a thing or two about it. Choozle, a digital advertising platform that leverages detailed consumer data to power real-time programmatic campaigns across display, video, mobile and social mediums, discussed a compelling benefit of the medium: “Programmatic puts media back into the strategy, not just at the tale end,” stated Andrew Fischer, CEO & Co-Founder of Choozle.

Today’s Advertising Landscape is Only for the Brave

Burger King is one of the first brands that come to mind when talking about courageous marketing. From their Proud Whopper and Whopper Freakout to Whopper Neutrality and Flame Grilled Burning Stores campaigns, no cultural, political or ethical topic is too intimidating. Fernando Machado, Global Chief Marketing Officer with Burger King, explained that “the key isn’t to be fearless, it’s to do it even when you are afraid.” The only things he said you should be afraid of as a marketer are “being boring” and “playing it safe.”

How do you convince your clients that fear is a good thing? You have to first “establish trust with your clients to get them to take a leap of faith,” stated Brian Elkins, Group Strategy Director with WPI Partner Heart+Mind Strategies. You have to “persuade by reason, and motivate through emotion.”

This trust doesn’t happen overnight and won’t happen with every client. As Anselmo Ramos, formerly of DAVID Agency and founder of newly formed independent agency GUT, stated, “ You need to  ‘date’ your clients. Have a drink. Find out if there’s chemistry. If you have the same goals. Is so, you can start holding hands.” And once you’re going steady, use that data to backup your ideas because, as Meg Kinney reminded us “we’ve never had more ways to win an argument.”

Technology Is Nothing Without a Human Element

This was a key message from Rhonda Bitterman and Mark Risis of IBM Watson Advertising, and why they interpret “AI” as meaning augmented intelligence, not artificial intelligence. Rhonda and Mark shared how IBM evolved from a weather business into a location-based advertising business, by using weather pattern predictions to drive product sales and reduce wasted spend. While Watson can reveal that consumers purchase more soup on cold summer days than during the winter, it takes a human to decide how to use that information to continue growing sales.

Justin Allen, Associate Director, Experience Design with WPI agency R&R Partners in Las Vegas echoed this sentiment. Through several examples of how R&R Partners has used virtual and augmented reality to create one-of-a-kind experiences for clients and consumers, Justin showed that if you “marry the right creative with the right ideas then pair it with technology” you can “create life changing experiences and life-long customers.”

Without an understanding of human beings and the emotions that drive their decisions, data is just a bunch of nonsensical numbers. This was apparent in the exclusive sneak peek at research conducted by Getty Images, provided by Director of Creative Insights Rebecca Swift. Getty set out to understand why certain images are more popular and profitable, and how that has changed over time. While their research was able to determine which photos resonated with audiences across the globe, it took a team of humans to interpret the reasons why based on cultural and societal understandings.

It’s not only data analysts, developers and software engineers that have an impact on technology; employees in all areas of the business and consumers are driving change. Kevin Packler, Vice President, Director of Amazon Services with WPI agency The Tombras Group reminded us that Amazon Prime was the result of a recommendation in their employee suggestion box. As for consumers, “We know when something was done thoughtfully, and we reward that with our time, our loyalty and ultimately our money,” said Meg Kinney. There’s no denying that loyalty and money are powerful drivers of change.

With all of this power to change that we as marketers and advertisers hold, it’s no surprise that our agencies are finding ways to use it for social good. WPI partner agency Velvet Media shared their vision for using any everyday activity–online searching–to drive charitable contributions. With SaveTheWorld.Online, they’ve created a search engine that donates pay per click spend to beneficial charities around the world.

As technology continues to change at a rapid clip, advertisers and marketers must continually adapt and innovate at an equally quick pace to meet the demands of consumers, create connections and drive business results. And independent agencies are the best suited for this task. We’re fast, we’re lean and we “can adapt better and more rapidly” as Anselmo Ramos stated. It’s an exciting new world, and independent agencies are ready for it!