For many, creativity represents the last truly human domain. Esben Amtorp is digital director at one of Denmark’s biggest advertising agencies Envision, and he shares his take on the future of creativity right here.
Why is creativity important to our future?
What shapes our everyday and our opinions? Stories, that’s what shape us. Since the advent of the World Wide Web and digital media, everyone has become producers as well as consumers of content – what Alvin Toffler coined prosumers in his book, The Third Wave, back in 1980. That trend has only accelerated in recent years as more or less everyone now owns a smartphone. I have an app that tells me how much time in average I use on my smartphone, and this morning it told me that I was using my phone 2 hours and 19 minutes every day. That’s 10 percent of my whole day spent on that, and that’s including sleep! So the stories I see on my iPhone has significance in my life – and they have all been curated through an algorithm whether on Google, Facebook, or some third place and that creates an ethical challenge – because what stories should I see? Will I only see stories that reaffirm my existing, and perhaps a bit twisted, opinions? Or will I be presented to stories or content pieces that will open my eyes to something new? Creativity is a gateway to extraordinary experiences that will delight me as well as enlighten me, and that’s important to us as individuals, for our democracy and for the society as a whole.
How is digital changing creativity?
Put simply, digital has changed the creative business as it’s no longer the Mad Men days, where we couldn’t target or measure anything specific. Today, every campaign can be delivered very specifically according to time, place and interest. And a lot of people will actually have you believe that creativity and digital in terms of data are opposites and conflicting parties. I used to be all about the data with my background in media agencies, but since I’ve come to work in the creative business I’ve learned it’s far from as simple as that. Data can deliver your story to the people you want to tell it to in a very efficient way, and that’s a good thing in many ways. But data is a means to an end – it’s not what makes the receiver feel emotions or make them change their attitude towards something. That’s the power of creativity and good storytelling. A good piece of creative content is characterized by a sensation of exploration and emotions. So it’s not an either or – we need both, because they make each other better. A good creative process is enlighten by data based insights from start to finish.
How is technology changing the future of creativity?
Technology will change creative in three ways, in my opinion. First of all, technology is opening up endless possibilities of creating unprecedented creative experiences with immersive technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality, just to mention a few. We can create experiences never seen before because of new technology and that’s a great thing. Secondly, the creatives of tomorrow will have to learn how to work with and alongside new technology in the future as it becomes more and more advanced. We’re already seeing AI now being able to write articles, so what does that mean to the creatives’ role? I don’t believe technology will be able to create an overall creative direction but it can have an important supportive function such as using AI to feed you the right insights as well as make many and live iterations of the same piece of content with small variations based on geography or the weather. Thirdly, the creatives will also need to take on a bigger ethical responsibility for the stories they help tell on behalf of brands. Because of the distributed power and the fact that your customers or anyone else can tell a different story about your brand than the one you’re telling, it sets a new ethical standard. You better make sure you’re telling the truth, because people will very soon know if you’re not. It’s fairly easy to produce “a nice story” but if it’s not funded in the company values it’s not going to have any impact in the world. It has to be your story, and you have to own it. All of it, both the good and the bad, and then go from there. And that requires creatives who are willing to ask the difficult questions and let ethics inform their creative decisions.
Envision is an advertising and knowledge agency with headquarters in Aarhus. Founded in 1988, Envision is today one of the country’s largest agencies with more than 100 employees. As a partner to IWDK, Envision has delivered the beautiful creative visuals for year’s festival.