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Technology Opens the Creative Opportunity – But Advertising is Closed



Brothers & Sisters CEO Matthew Charlton on how advertising needs to get creative with technology

Technology Opens the Creative Opportunity – But Advertising is Closed

The speed of technological evolution as a tool to be utilised by creative forces has been so fast that I wonder if we truly realise it.

Fashion has utilised technology to produce new fabrics and mould fantastic new designs. Puma re-emerged as a power brand on the back of it. The blurring of the trainer and the formal shoe into one not only created a new shoe but had a cultural impact on our attitude to formality and informality of dress.

One of my favourite tracks on my iPhone is a mash up between Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" and The Clash's "Rock the Casbah". Technology seems to allow us to break open things that we thought were locked and blur the boundaries of things we thought we understood.

One of the greatest quotes in advertising is "never be more than 10 minutes ahead". More than that and people don't recognise value in the idea; less than that and it's not interesting.

Technology by its nature seems to be perfectly and constantly 10 minutes ahead due to its reliance on modifying existing experiences. By nature it understands its relevance to its audience.

It is in fact better at doing what advertising has spent years doing – trying to guess what "ten minutes ahead" looks like. Technology just is, no guessing.

What does this mean for advertising now?

Having spent years trapped in a hugely formulaic cell called TV adverts, agencies developed a culture of what I would call "micro engineering" ideas. So much was fixed that the skill became about searching for tiny ways to be original. As a result we now have an industry culture where we over celebrate micro engineering. That's not just creative departments but the whole agency.

We need to move to a place where we become "macro engineers".

It's a space where we are constantly taking what is relevant to culture and audience and all the tools we can use – from film to music to data to architecture to code to people. We need to mash all of these things together. If we do this our relevance will match our size and once again advertising is open.

To do this we all need to change. Account people, planners, producers, project managers and creatives. We all need to do a better job in truth and we all need to be open.

Matthew Charlton is CEO at London advertising agency Brothers and Sisters.

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Brothers & Sisters, Wed, 30 Apr 2014 11:03:30 GMT