For Collider’s first ever #colliderchat, we ask Del Manning, our Executive Creative Director, what is new within the creative sphere for a creative agency, such as Collider in London.
#COLLIDERCHAT – DEL MANNING
What is a creative agency in 2017?
‘Creative agency’ is certainly a lot broader term than it was 10 years ago. ‘Creative’ today can mean how we interface with technology or a service as much as how we promote a brand.
In traditional terms, the idiom of an agency has had to change dramatically to meet the demands of the performance-led client briefs where guaranteeing results at the outset has become the norm. That has been an easier process for media neutral agencies like Collider, but extremely painful for larger traditional Ad agencies.
The fact that we are now pitching regularly against ‘big Ad agencies’ is testament to them having to change how they answer a brief with more than just their traditional stalwarts of broadcast and print media. Brands are looking for a more engaging relationship with their customers so building an ongoing brand experience is critical.
Big ideas now need to consider wider activations like experiential and social.
In a digital sphere, we are moving past the ‘what tech can do’ to ‘how can I use technology to empower a brand experience?’. The goal is to remove the sense or awareness that an interface is there at all. This is evidenced by how impatient we have all become as consumers with the usability of an app or service if it’s not seamless. As consumers, we are more aware creatively of the outcome we want brands and services to provide.
But what hasn’t changed is the goal of creating a strong, authentic bond between a brand and its audience.
There is nothing quite as satisfying as when the left and right brain come together to combine great strategy with amazing creative to solve a problem for a brand in a totally new but appropriate way.
Not every creative agency is attractive to me; I have a short attention span and get bored easily. My first job was in a brand and packaging agency – I left after a year of designing packaging for 26 different varieties of nut.
At Collider, our breadth of clients, and therefore audiences are wide-ranging – that’s appealing to me as it keeps us on our toes. We never get blinkered or lazy by being stuck in a rut of a vertical specialism or only one type of media.
From a creative point of view my role is to guide and encourage the creative output of the agency for our clients, as well as set and maintain the direction for who we want to be creatively as an agency. As a company director and managing shareholder, I have a wider business role which is more about where we want to be as an overall agency.
I don’t think it’s by any means the only place to be a creative agency. Manchester is becoming a hot-bed for new creative agencies, and industry organisations like D&AD and Glug are much less London-centric than they used to be. Saying that, there’s no other place in the UK which is such a massive greenhouse of creativity and talent.
Collider started in Guildford, but it didn’t take us long to realise that to excel we need to move into this creative greenhouse. It’s certainly a lot easier to attract creative talent and keep them inspired in London.
Creative strategy is really about the big idea that answers the strategic ask. The task of ‘creative’ is to respond to the internal brief created by planning.
The first phase of this is ‘ideation’, where a team explore top level ideas which generally have no design element at all. They are big ideas with a copy narrative describing how they could come to life. Visual art direction then captures this.
Brand guidelines set the tone and personality of a brand. Any big idea that cuts across or is contrary to these simply wouldn’t work as it means it isn’t reflecting the unique personality of the brand – which is critical.
We have a test in ideation; ‘could this idea be done by any brand in the sector?’ – if the answer is ‘yes’ then it doesn’t make the cut.
AI is a current trend; chatbots in Messenger are already a reality (we’ve just launched one for PG tips), and we will see more of their use in answering human questions in more human ways. It’s just another strand in developing and enhancing the user experience.
I think we will see the two polar extremes; more short lived content, an example of which would be disappearing content on social channels like Snapchat and Instagram. And Long form content that will empower and encourage audiences to pause and dwell with brands instore and online.
I think our difference is also our ‘honest spirit’ – media neutral means we have always been an agency who genuinely wants the best for the client. We are owner managed and not part of any network, and so are motivated by giving honest recommendations for each campaign.
We are excited about campaigns which start with great strategy, come to life through excellent creativity, and deliver amazing results for our clients – creating real momentum for brands. It means we are trusted by our clients to do right by them.
I think it will be more focused on what brilliant creativity can deliver – great ideas. Great ideas move people. They build momentum for brands. Every brand that’s failed has been because they stopped having ideas.
The clever ones, like Airbnb, live in a perpetual state of almost fear (good fear), that unless they constantly look to new ideas and new ways to meaningfully engage with their customers, they too could go the way of once massive brands like Kodak who stopped considering where their value was for their audience.