Droga5’s Neil Heymann: We have to remind ourselves that data represents people

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Independent agencies are having a moment in the competitive advertising agency landscape, but it’s not all rosy. On this episode of Making Marketing, Neil Heymann, Droga5’s new chief creative officer, discussed how tough it is to be an indie creative agency these days, with client demands that keep changing in a market where it feels like nobody cares about creativity anymore. Edited highlights below.

New days, new options.
“When the media landscape was simpler, there was a binary way of approaching things. It’s more complex these days. Maybe TV is a thing, maybe not. Maybe a GIF in the right channel is all you need. We’re always going to be pushing for those big, ambitious ideas and it’s still about creating brand messaging that stands for something but the way we get it in front of people is way more nuanced now. Everyone has to be working in the service of creative.”

Cost of entry goes higher.
“People live complex lives these days. To provide them with an image of a product and expect them to gravitate towards it is a long shot. Whatever landscape we’re entering into, it’s never been more saturated with messages. Whatever pieces of communication are being put out need to harness the emotions, and that’s the cost of entry these days.”

Data can’t stand alone.
“Advertising has always been about persuasion. We just have a lot more levers to pull now. It’s our responsibility and challenge as an agency to keep up with the way that the world is moving and the way media is changing. Everything is data-driven and can be tracked. But data alone is not enough. The future of all of this is how everything is married together in inventive ways. Data becomes a very simplified conversation. What we remind ourselves is data does represent people, humanity, emotions and choices that people make. Our work needs to reflect that.”

Everyone is competition.
“As technology progresses and people become more creative themselves, it feels like competition is everywhere. We need to keep our standards up. It’s about how we take things that have always been a part of this company and continue to [do great advertising]. Some of it’s structural in terms of who we bring into the creative process, how we build teams, who we work with, the clients we work on.”


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