Using Partnerships to Reimagine Creativity

Opinion: Reinventing advertising at a time when change is needed

On the left is a cartoon character with a brain for a head; on the right is a character is a light bulb as a head; the light bulb is plugging into the brains outlet
New partnerships can lead to an entirely new advertising landscape.
Getty Images

What if we reimagined creativity to reinvent advertising? I want to challenge us all to consider this question as we gather at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

This question may seem odd coming from the world’s largest advertiser, but it’s important to ask because the world of advertising is being disrupted.

Traditional TV advertising reach continues to decline. Digital advertising dominates, but ad blocking keeps increasing. Over-the-top streaming content is growing with no ads at all.

People are also telling us that advertising needs to change.

Seven out of 10 people say ads are annoying. Ads interrupt the entertainment they want to watch. Many ads are irrelevant, lacking insight or usefulness to the viewer. And too many ads are of low quality and are sometimes just silly or ridiculous.

Many people think ads don’t accurately reflect who they are. The #SeeHer initiative found that 40% of women say they don’t relate to how advertising portrays them because too many women and girls are inaccurately or negatively portrayed through stereotyping, objectification or diminished characterization. The same is true for portrayal of people of different races, ethnicities, sexual identities, abilities, religions and ages. And if you look behind the camera, it’s not surprising why: Only 7% of commercials are directed by women and even fewer by someone who is Black, Latino, Asian or LGBTQ.

The ad world simply doesn’t reflect the real world.

It’s time for us all to lead disruption. It’s time to reimagine creativity to reinvent advertising.

And when you think about it, there have been few, if any, breakthroughs in advertising innovation since moving from radio to television. Media has fragmented, and instead of innovating, we all tried to “break through the clutter” with more ads. We didn’t break through at all; we just created more noise.

It’s time for us all to lead disruption. It’s time to reimagine creativity to reinvent advertising.

There are vast sources of creativity available, but for too long, you might say the ad world has been in its own world, separate from other creative industries. There’s some intersection at the edges, but what if we could reinvent advertising by more intentionally joining forces with other creative worlds?

For example, what if we joined the creative world of filmmakers to engage people with powerful storytelling? The level of creativity from filmmakers is extraordinary and can bring an entirely new creative lens to the stories we tell by integrating cinematic creativity with brands. And when we can get more women and underrepresented creators behind the camera, we can further elevate creative brilliance because creativity loves diversity.

Or what if we joined forces with the creative world of music and comedy? Music has always been an integral part of advertising, and brands regularly use humor in ads. But imagine if we fully embraced the genius of the top entertainers in the world to integrate our brands into storylines that are clever, funny and engage audiences in ways never experienced before to the point where people actually looked forward to being entertained by brands.

What if the world of technology could completely replace advertising? Embedding cutting-edge technology into our products and packages can completely transform the consumer experience. And immersive technologies such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality are only scratching the surface on what’s possible creatively. These experiences are inspiring us to imagine a world with no ads as we know them where the application of technology replaces ads altogether.

So, what’s the path forward to lead disruption and reimagine creativity to reinvent advertising?

At Cannes, P&G will announce an array of new creative partnerships, building from the strong foundation established last year. Partnerships that discover new sources of creativity by merging the ad world with other creative worlds—like filmmaking, music, comedy, technology and journalism—to create stories never told or experienced before. Partnerships with creative people who share our values and who believe in equality in front of and behind the camera—because—again—creativity loves diversity.

Let’s all embrace new creative partnerships that reimagine creativity to reinvent the role and impact of advertising at a time when advertising must change. Partnerships that can move us to the edge of one of the greatest revolutions of creativity the advertising world has ever seen. Partnerships that can literally change the world by using our voices not only as a force for growth, but as a force for good.