Twenty years ago, the primary communication in the media landscape, arrived at audiences via television. Almost every home had one, and that dominant linear storytelling device delivered content narratives lasting anywhere between 30 seconds and three hours. Music, drama, film and advertising used television exclusively to amazing effect.
This was where “it” happened: Hundreds of moments that defined culture and drove an emotional connection to brands that, even decades later, remain difficult to forget.
Think about it. Very few people (those born in the ’70s and ’80s, particularly) could deny the use in common parlance, the indelible role of the “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid” jingle or the “Kodak moment” we’ve had in our lives. The fame and absolute saturation of this creativity was everywhere. And yet the businesses, products and services provided by those companies became utterly irrelevant at worst and gradually marginalized out of existence at best.
The colossal change in business, driven by new technology, the internet and an empowered consumer is well-documented and something we are all now familiar with. However, less well known—or admitted to—is that the industry has been slower to realize, adopt and accept that a significant amount of this disruption exists through the creation of new, previously inconceivable brand experiences, interactive business services and experience design.
One doesn’t have to think too hard or look too far to see the evidence of this. Think about those reasonably commoditized business offerings, introduced by late entrants into the world of retail (Amazon), transportation (Uber and Waze), travel (Airbnb), entertainment (Netflix and Spotify) and finance (Apple Pay). Now consider the one truly significant differentiator that they all have in common; the one thing that emotionally touches people; the thing that people now can’t imagine life without; the thing that makes them feel all warm and fuzzy; the thing they tell their friends about and that keeps them coming back.
It is the experience; the interactions that surround and facilitate the product and the brand; the purposeful utility provided by a collection of moments that streamline their lives.
These days, everyone has an opinion on what the most innovative and culturally impactful creativity looks like, yet there appears to be an increasingly universal appreciation, amongst the industry at least, for a less linear experiential format. Consider the frictionless ordering of a Domino’s pizza with nothing more than an emoji, the subscription enabled ownership of your next new Volvo and the ability of YouTube to connect with your Google voice assistant so that you are less confused about the irresistible nature of Burger King’s flagship product. These and many other Cannes Lions Gold and Grand Prix Lion-winning moments of creativity indicate that the era of experience is not only here, but it’s having the most profound effect.
The value of creativity, its role within business and the return on investment it offers the brand has never been more important, not only for the CMO, but also for CEOs everywhere. No longer can the communication and marketing be something that happens “over there” in a desperate state of trying to link itself and connect with the realities of the business and changing customer behavior “over here.”
Increasingly, the most relevant connections between businesses and their desired audience are being made through the creation of solutions in a whole variety of shapes and sizes. These unforgettable, indispensable experiences are created through an interface that serves and stimulates both the functional and emotional needs across numerous moments in the relationship. Let’s celebrate this change and experience a new era of creativity.