Data as Creativity

Recently, I saw a banner online for a debate at last weeks Cannes Lions titled ‘Is Data Killing Creativity?’. Reading the tweets and the blog posts following it, it seems there was a lot of ‘its great because it pisses me off’ and ‘I grudgingly accept it because it gives me the terms of engagement’. Looking at the arguments though, it seems that they all miss the flaw in the question.

Data is creativity, certainly for business. Perhaps there are a few too many frustrated artists in the ad industry (though personally this is something I have never come across…) but unless you are a lone wolf, out there, trying to substantiate the Vasarian myth (in which case you may want to hand back the 6-figure salary, Mister Chief Creative Officer), you ‘art’ is that of selling. And no matter how many Lions you may tame, the real measure is ROI, however indirect, long-term or circuitous. The best way to do this is very often through something art-like, and creativity often aligns closely with effectiveness. But lose sight of that effectiveness comms becomes and indulged art-student on an executives wage, leaving itself justly open to all the criticism it receives.

So how is data creativity? Data- be in quant, qual, cultural, psychological or commercial- is the map of the emotional and rational pressure points, a marketers reflexology diagram of where to push and it is also the ‘how’. In the numbers, or the verbatims or sector reports are the real building blocks for insight. Data is creativity as wine is grapes. The idea that data could kill creativity, to pose the two in opposition to each other is absurd