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Creative teams in digital

May 13, 2008

This is how it was inside an agency: a creative team was briefed on a job to communicate something from the client to the target market. That something, called the unique selling proposition (or the single most important point, as it’s called where I work) was often communicated on TV first, and then into things like Radio, Print and outdoor.

The creative team would then try to get into the head of the target market. They would read the same magazines, watch the same TV shows, eat the same foods, as the target market. They would attempt to live the life of that person to effectively get their voice. Then, they would craft a communication, in the target market’s manner of speaking, and advertise the selling proposition. “You should buy this because…”

Creative teams were able to get in the head of people because there were limited places to look. Think about it like this: we all consumed virtually the same media 20 years ago. Thus, creative teams could focus on those media to get across the message.

Now, the system’s been hacked.

In the new digital paradigm, we don’t all consume the same media. Not even close. Some people watch TV shows on TV, others watch it on their phone. Some people use radios to listen to the radio, others use the internet (or iPods). People don’t need a phone to make calls, or paper to read newspapers. And they don’t need news departments to get news.

This is all pretty obvious, and not really new if you’re paying attention. But this is why it matters:

The agency crafts a brief looking for 18-22 year old males. The media department informs the AE that 18-22 year old males don’t watch TV (on TV), listen to the radio (on the radio) or read magazines or newspapers (in paper form).

So, it’s decided that the one of the ways to reach this market is with a Page in Facebook, using social ads. This is where it gets different.

To create a message in this medium, creative teams have to be participating members of Facebook. And this isn’t jumping in and hanging around it for a few days (like was the custom when they consumed the media of their target market). This literally means, being part of the community.

In other words, unlike the old days of getting into the head of the consumer in a week, one can’t get a sense of Facebook by logging in for a week.

Now, creative people have to live the media to get the voice of the media. And this isn’t unique to Facebook. This applies to Bebo, Twitter, MySpace, Digg. It applies to the media that the brief says your target market is using.

To me, this could be one of the larger barriers of adoption at agencies of these new mediums. Because while the junior creative team might already be using these mediums, there’s a good chance that the senior creatives aren’t. And that’s the disconnect.

Because unlike traditional media, we have to actually use the media to use it for marketing.


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