Creativity is now a Mix of Science and Art.
We used to be able to make pretty ads all by ourselves. But as the borderline between digital and traditional advertising is disappearing, so is the possibility of doing commercials as an individual sport.
Thus, when I recently met Creative Director Juan Morales from SapientNitro in their Miami Beach office, I was curious about their creative culture. They seem to have found a way to use technology to surprise – and even bring forth a chuckle. SapientNitro’s award winning ideas include an icecream machine that dispenses free ice-cream when you smile at it.
Mixing Art and Science isn’t easy: It requires the right people and the right way of working together. So who does SapientNitro recruit? What kind of creative comes up with the idea for something like the Autotrader App that can tell you the value of any car you see?
Apparently, there isn’t a typical neo-creative yet: “We have a lot of kids here that never did advertising before.” says Juan. But as he mentions that there are many web-developers in his team, I can’t help but think that it’s probably easier to move from a deep understanding of technology into branding than going the opposite way.
Either way, once-separate skillsets are finally converging, Juan says: “You get a new kind of creative.”
What is new about them? Mostly, their focus on making those digital things really work: Not just for the red eyed jury member in Cannes, but for you and me when we use it. “We’re consumers first.” says the Creative Director, which is really different from the old style CD who “only” needed to understand the consumer.
That’s why the guys at SapientNitro don’t think of themselves as a “digital” agency, Juan says. His team is creating ideas for their clients, any way they need them. He smiles while he relays some of the initial confusion that SapientNitro inevitably causes: being a tech company – and a creative agency! But the truth is, turning data into value will become one of the biggest fields for brand differentiation, and whoever is creative there, will have the clients ear.
It’s all about creating a fluid experience. One of the most important tools for making that happen will be the mobile phone. And it looks like the biggest motivator drawing us to into that experience will be gaming. Of course, Foursquare won’t keep me up playing until the sun comes up (Assassins II, anyone?). But it is definitely interesting how smartphones, by bringing virtual and physical together, are becoming the perfect “game controller for your life”, as Juan puts it.
Making digital things, mobility, gaming principles: it doesn’t sound like the job of advertising is going to get simple again any time soon. At SapientNitro, collaborative skills are therefore in high demand. To bring science and art together, you need to be great at what you do, but you also must be able to forget for a minute “whose job is what”.
To create outstanding advertising in this new world you still need the passion of a creator. But you need other people even more.