OMMA – The Evolution of Creativity Online

The online advertising banner is about to turn sixteen years old.  After sixteen years, our ability to redefine space (at least in terms of pixels) may have matured, and we have to change our thinking to how creatives can change how they move ideas into an online space.

Moving from the Banner to Interactive

Jeff Benjamin, Chief Creative Officer of CP+B demonstrated examples of new trends in communicating to consumers online, moving from banners and ads to online video of interactive campaigns (Samsung demonstrating the robustness of their phones in an experiment that would be at home on Mythbusters) and mobile applications (Ikea creating an interactive catalog that allow users to place furniture in their homes via augmented reality.)

Benjamin shared a video from Nike about the Tour de France that started in a traditional manner, using Lance Armstrong as a spokesperson in vide.  They then shifted the messenger, having individuals telling personal stories on camera.  Finally, they shifted how they shared individual messages entirely, from short videos to chalked messages on the race route.

In regard to creativity in a fixed space (e.g., banners), Benjamin compared the challenge to Shakespeare working in iambic pentameter.  He shared an example from Axion’s banner concert series, in which they filmed short video concerts in boxes that shared an aspect ratio with common banner ads so that they could film and share these concerts as ads.  They started with well-known Belgian bands before moving to a contest that gave 25 new bands exposure.

Participation online, is an excellent catalyst for creativity.  Online media isn’t dead, according to Benjamin, but it’s vital that online creatives continue to evolve.  To this end, Beanjamin moderated a panel of online creatives.

Online Creative is Not an Oxymoron

Lars Bastholm, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, NY

Michael Lebowitz, Founder & CEO, Big Spaceship

Gene Liebel, Partner, HUGE Inc.

Paul Woolmington, Founding Partner, Naked Communications

The panel shared more than just opinions, demonstrating their own favorite innovations in communication beyond the banner space.  Bastholm used examples from Latin American companies that turned town names into ringtones (and commercials for its service) and books into Tweets.  Online creativity and marketing has evolved into a series of channels and tools, and companies need to determine which of these channels to embrace in sharing their messages.

Lebowitz asked why would online creativity be an oxymoron?  He feels that “it’s an answer to a question that shouldn’t be asked”, as Gigli isn’t a reason to doubt the existence of ongoing cinematic creativity.  He used @discographies on Twitter as an example of someone providing value to something about which we care about, in this case, music.  Another example, a documentary on hand-painted billboards in NYC, provides content above and beyond simple advertising.

Liebel expressed agreement with the rest of the panel, but he feels that the attempt to solve the problem of using traditional spaces like the banner is getting a disproportionate share of attention in the creative discussion.  His shared examples looked at design around services instead of multimedia (Lufthansa’s sky status service, Best Buy’s @twelpforce, or the shopkick app).    He also shared Gatorade’s Performance Center as an example of innovative branded content, something that Liebel feels is an area that hasn’t been explored.

Woolmington wanted to share content from large players, and he wanted to examine the extent to which brands were listening, providing utility, curating, and providing information.  He also spoke about @twelpforce.  “The genius of this,” he explains, “is that it keeps giving.”  For example, Best Buy is logging and scraping the tweets to develop a database of help for customers.   Another example was how Coca Cola used RF wristbands to integrate a teen camp real-time with Facebook.  Next, he looked at Nike+, something he recognized as a conference go-to example, and how the service continues to evolve to use new technology, providing new information to users.  His final example was Uniqlo, who used a “site under construction” page as a channel through which customers could provide feedback on lines, using retweets to determine which lines would have their prices decrease for “lucky customers.”

Lebowitz answered a question on how to attract creatives.  He noted that culture is key.  Potential employees must know that their viewpoints and contributions will be valued.  Bastholm added that many potential creatives are already well-versed in the channels on which agencies seek to innovate.  Woolmington understands that there are few rules in the online creative space, and the more successful individuals are at breaking out of silos, the more successful the creative output will be.

(I wonder if any of these guys would be interested in talking to me about open roles.  If any readers have an in, please let me know!)

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