Being the only creative agency network participating at the exchange4media Conclave on September 30, 2014 in Mumbai, Michael Wall, Global CEO, Lowe & Partners, took it upon himself to relate the two topics of creativity and technology. The session was attended by the luminaries of the marketing and advertising domain, and some of the finest speakers from around the world. Wall began his presentation with a diagram depicting the several available social media publishing platforms. He remarked, “It’s a very complex world out there. None of us have the perfect answer but it will remain a combination of creative judgement and technological capability.”
However, just because technology is rapidly becoming a fundamental part of communications today, Wall pointed out that there’s no need to ‘throw the baby out of the bathwater just yet’. He explained, “If we look at television in India, it is still the biggest medium and still very much efficient and loved by the audience. So, in India certainly one cannot get rid of TV but we have to think of how campaigns can become more multi-channel.” With the help of data, he said, “TV’s share is forecast to drop 1 per cent over the next five years. If you look at the steady growth of various sectors whether it’s telecom, retail, ecommerce, FMCG, automobile, and think about the number of channels that are increasing in tandem with that, it’s no surprise that TV ad revenues are going to increase.”
While TV is going nowhere in the near future, Wall is of the opinion that technology needs to be considered a derivative of television. Citing the example of VW’s iconic Super Bowl advertisement, ‘The Force’, Wall said that brands are beginning to use technology around mainstay television advertising. He explained, “VW used traditional advertising during a mainstay event such as the Super Bowl but played with it in such a way like backing it up with social media by seeding before the main event, monitoring and pushing content strategically. This multi-channel use of technology allied with creativity is a big example of how television has become augmented.”
Pointing out the other ways in which technology can help creative communications is that it can revitalise sectors that seem to be on a decline such as print. He commented, “What’s interesting when you think about creativity and technology is that it not only mends what you are doing but also breathes new life into what you have.” Another important point from Wall’s presentation was the fact that technology is no longer a linear thing. He said, “The truth about some of the bigger markets is that they are just going to jump right through that, right from the beginning to where we are today. There’s no better example for this than Africa.”
Closer home, Wall describes India as a fast moving, competitive, driven and brand-friendly environment. However, he commented that the country still lags in contexts such as broadband access. At the current pace of progress, India will get to Brazil’s household broadband penetration of 32 per cent by 2036. But since technology is no longer a linear trend, he said, “India is clearly going to make a jump and no surprises that the big area where this is going to happen is in mobile.” He continued, “Some of the data that we are seeing in mobile is very encouraging, this pace of change is going to do something dramatic. The conversation I have with my colleagues here in India is about how we can time our run in such a scenario, how we can find brands, opportunities and creative ideas to take advantage this because it is happening and it is just going to happen a lot more quickly.”
Coming to what’s true to him, Wall stated, “Content is still king and video is the key driver. It is fundamental particularly from a creative agency’s point of view.” From here on, it’s all about video. Digital is making the experience of video content deeper, longer and richer. Wall called Bollywood a massive opportunity for video content. Considering YouTube has video content of over 1,700 years and 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute, Wall recommended to stay away from noise. “While it’s a dynamic medium, and certainly in terms of creative communication, we have to make sure that we respect it and use it correctly just like the very best marketing has always done,” he said. To stand out from the noise and clutter, Wall stated two things that exemplify cut through content namely smartness and storytelling. He also mentioned that women are going to be a fundamental and powerful audience in a technological age.
Summing up his session, Wall commented, “In some shape or form, we are all technologists now. Amongst the other things clients across the world value agencies for, technology has become a core competence.” The big structural requirement technology forces on agencies is that it can be a creative network but it has to have digital at its core and activation as part of that story. He concluded by saying, “There is a tendency to overestimate the effect of technology in the short term and underestimate its effect in the long term.”