Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Adnan Arnautlija, Executive Editor, Media Marketing
A major part of the Epica Awards, which were held last week in Amsterdam, was the Creative Circle conference, which every year tries to tackle a topic that will help industry stakeholders to adjust to ever changing conditions in the market, by providing platform for debate and consequently insights to drive your decisions.
This year the topic was quite interesting, “Will Responsibility Kill Creativity”, and I must say that I have a bit conflicting opinions after the conference. The format itself was great, as the organizers set up a series of lectures followed by roundtable discussions on a range of fields concerning responsibility in creative industries. However, I was not as happy with the summary part of the conference, where conclusions were presented. The Creative Circles conference has set the stage for this important discussion for our industry, but it will take more events like it and more deliberation to come to some concrete answers.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, and let’s start from the beginning. I firmly believe that the question of responsibility in all the various meanings of that word is shaping our industry for the years to come. But the key lies in those various meanings of the word.
At the beginning of the conference we had the opportunity to listen to some thought-provoking lectures to stir the ideas in our heads for the roundtable discussions that would follow. A very interesting lecture came from Dr. Catherine Jansson-Boyd, a consumer psychologist from the Anglia Ruskin University, who presented the multisensory theory and its application in marketing.
If you are wondering what senses have to do with responsibility in creative industries, you are not the only one. I also wondered that at the beginning of the lecture, but Dr. Jansson-Boyd quickly persuaded me with arguments on pairing the sensory stimuli in your work to achieve more authenticity and influence of your messages, especially if they aim to spark an emotional reaction. Impressive lecture on the ways in which certain sounds, imagery, and especially the sense of touch can make your marketing far more successful. Did you know that touch turns us into golums, and that letting the consumer touch your product immediately starts forming the feelings of ownership in their heads? When you think about it it’s quite obvious, but since I never thought about it this was a real revelation.
Then we learned about a responsible brand of coffee – the Moyee Coffee, which was formed as an initiative of social entrepreneurship to help local producers. This FairChain coffee brand that has Ethiopian-Dutch roots was born when its Dutch founder saw the poor conditions in which the coffee pickers do their job in Ethiopia, and how little they get for their effort, since picking was the only task in the production chain actually done in Ethiopia, while the rest of the process was done abroad, meaning that 85% of money and revenue went elsewhere.
Wanting to change this, Moyee Coffee opened production plants in Ethiopia, and started exporting finished, roasted product from there, meaning more jobs and more return of value to the local community. The story is quite interesting, but some numbers the presentation cited had me scratching my head. I applaud the initiative, but Killian Stokes from the Moyee Coffee said that the operations of this brand mean that 35% of the proceeds now go to Ethiopia, instead of the previous 15%. But since the processing of the product was moved locally, leaving just distribution and marketing elsewhere, isn’t a rise of 20% too little? I believe this is a responsible brand, I just think they could be more responsible, if that makes any sense.
We also learned about the eco friendly DGTL Festival, which banned burgers from its venues, introduced smart energy plant, use waste creatively to enrich their program, and even started growing algae that are used in preparation of food at the festival, in an approach they call “Regenerative event management”. Stephane Martin, EASA Chairman and ARPP Director General, reminded the audience of some historically cringe-worthy ads to give a foundation to thinking how far (or have we even) we actually progressed in sense of responsibility, and gave a couple of facts about the introduction of advertising self-regulation since 1935.
Final two lectures came from agency side people, as Anne Laure Brunner from BETC, and Ogilvy’s CCO for EMEA Stephane Vogel took the stage and showed examples of great success of some brands in this field, as well as some unfortunate missteps, for which they gave some plausible explanations.
As I said earlier, the lectures were the intro into the roundtable discussions, about ten of them to be more precise, dealing with a range of fields in which responsibility in approach to communication and marketing has a major impact. Topics ranged from gender and racial issues, over economic equality, health and ecology, to data and privacy issues and GDPR – a topic that my table was dealing with.
Although we spent the entire time at our designated tables, in conversations with participants afterwards I learned that the discussions were quite interesting, and raised a number of very interesting points. But unfortunately the time constraints left most of those interesting points invisible, since the table representatives needed to summarize the findings into 3-4 short recommendations for the industry.
You can imagine how much nuance of opinions was lost when a two hour discussion had to be summarized into 3 bullets in a PowerPoint presentation for each table. This led to majority of the recommendations to seem completely generalized, for example calling for authenticity in advertising, building trust and taking responsibility as an individual and as a brand. All these are nice notions, but don’t tell much of that which was said at the tables, where people made concrete recommendations on how things should be done.
Also, one thing that was discussed at the table, but didn’t take the center stage during the presentations of results, is the difference between responsibility in advertising, and political correctness affecting creativity. These notions are related, but in my opinion must be separated when talking about creativity, because one of them has the potential to empower brand communication and define how business in the future, while the latter actually has the power to harm or even kill creativity as brands and creatives shy from bolder and more decisive action.
Both were mentioned at the tables, but unfortunately couldn’t be properly presented due to said time constraints which left just 4 minutes for each table to present their conclusions. Still, it was great to hear what people think about the topic, and we hope to see a lot more discussion on this in the future.
As for my opinion on the topic Will Responsibility Kill Creativity, I am certain it won’t if it remains grounded on insight and brave action. But if this responsibility is only steered by the PC culture, I’m afraid that it could end up killing a lot of potential creative works. As Stephen Fry said once in a debate on political correctness: “One of the greatest human failings is to prefer to be right, than to be effective. And political correctness is always obsessed with how right it is without thinking of how effective it might be.”