Q&A: Giant Spoon’s Laura Correnti on the Role Data Plays in Creativity

Discusses planning and programming levels of media

Correnti’s podcast, Adlandia, focuses on the advertising and marketing industry. Giant Spoon

Laura Correnti, evp and managing director, media at Giant Spoon, is responsible for creating the vision and setting the guardrails for how the agency approaches the marketplace—from data strategy to positioning to how they think about content and creativity in relationship to media partnerships. She also has a killer podcast about the industry, Adlandia.

Adweek spoke to Correnti about the role data plays in creativity at the planning and programming levels of media.

Adweek: Walk me through conversations you have with clients about data and creativity.
Laura Correnti: Our obsession with data as an industry in some parts has dismantled creativity when it comes to media. We went so far transactional, and I talk about the idea that becoming so efficiency focused has forced us to forget how to critically solve business problems.

The idea with this whole obsession with scale became this race to the bottom that led to the commodification of the industry relative to media. I talk about how automation led us to focusing on efficiencies versus emotion, and I think that’s the tricky thing with data. While a lot of clients come through the front door of Giant Spoon, we believe that pendulum is swinging back the other way.

We’re seeing this rise of purpose-driven platforms, and have clients asking for ideas that people can “connect” with or “immerse” themselves in. And as a result, data is directional. And what we preach is that context and culture are the critical ingredients. If you start thinking about how you layer on the facets that are in the world around us and use data as a point we can be directed from or lean on to validate a point, the key thing is that it can’t be the only point.

That’s where a lot of things have gotten tripped up in the industry, and ultimately coming back to the idea of how we interpret the data, and that can be the difference between a one-dimensional media plan versus programming plans into the culture.

When you move from planning to programming it unlocks a whole new realm of creativity that I think we’re just starting to scratch the surface of.

Do you have any examples of this new realm of creativity?
Just last week we won two Effies for HP for “The Wolf,” which is a content series focused on printer security. Shaping that idea, there was nugget in some of the research that HP was doing that found IT business decision makers are becoming increasingly the millennial demographic. These are people obsessed with gaming culture; all the sorts of things that would point us to anything but that guy in white shirt, khaki pants, in the back of the room. Knowing that, and using that directional insight, that led us away from traditional ways in which the industry previously has focused on that audience.

Christian Slater stars in ‘The Wolf.’

A traditional plan would have landed you anywhere but creating an episodic series with Christian Slater. It would have landed you in traditional trade and industry-focused publications that you would assume IT decision makers are reading. You’re not thinking about gaming culture or hacker culture or all of the things that sit in the sub-Reddits.

Knowing and being a student, not just of our industry but of culture, is a critical skill that’s tipping creativity in new directions.

Where does data not work?
When you look at the tools that we have at hand in planning, so much of the data we’re getting are latent data points. Stuff that’s 6-months-old, from a 1,000-person panel. That’s how planners are making decisions.

This past year, for GE, we have this program called “Drone Week.” We ended up partnering with Viceland.

We had the idea to go to Viceland and say, “What does it look like for us to create Sharkweek but for drones, and would you be down to creating co-created content to program an entire week?”

No amount of data is going to land on that intersection of cultural implication and creative storytelling. It can help guide, but that’s where critical problem solving, knowing the industry and understanding how to work within the market trumps what data can bring to the table.

How can brands and agencies work together in using data to inform creative?
A lot of it comes down to skill sets and the curriculum we use within the walls of our agencies. A lot of the mentality of relying on automation has ultimately created a scenario where that critical thinking and creativity has been jeopardized.

People talk about the reconvergence of creative and media agencies coming back to the table. Put cultural anthropologists among data scientists. As long as creative sits outside of media, we’re going to have this tension in the market. The way creative looks at data is completely different than the way media looks at data.

This story first appeared in the June 11, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@joshsternberg Josh Sternberg is the former media and tech editor at Adweek.