Guess what’s common across Google, Nokia, Apple, Intel, P&G, Unilever, MacDonald’s, 3M and Sony? Diverse as their businesses may be, they have all found a place in the top 10 innovation leaders of 2010.
Innovation was the unequivocal agenda heralded by the world’s top two advertisers, Procter & Gamble and Unilever, at Cannes 2010 too. The festival also had its prestigious list of top 10 Titanium Lions dominated by winners from the unconventional spheres of engagement and experience, with eight out of the top 10 metals going to them as against a humbling two for conventional work.
The Grand Prix winner was actually a customer care service taken online.
The more recently concluded Spikes Winners too underlined the sway held by unconventional ideas.
Look around and you’ll see various confirming signs of the trend. It is easy to understand why. The future is marked by uncertainty and an extreme dynamic. Thanks to interconnectedness, discontinuous technological enablement, democratisation of information, media and marketplace, convergence and transference of brand control from the marketer to the consumer.
In this new dynamic, there’s no brand-to-consumer communication but consumer-to-consumer dialogue. No intrusion but engagement. No media planning but channel planning. No digital department but a pervasive digital culture across. No single, TVC-led big idea but many experience and engagement ideas. No film production team but collaborative multi-channel producers. No mass media but mass customisation. No ‘you can’t miss the impact’ style of yore but influence, engagement and experience.
So what should be the right approach to lead our industry in this world 2.0 marked by uncertainty, multiplicity and chaos? The answer lies in what we humans do when faced with the new and unknown: we experiment. Doing business, marketing and communication successfully in this new world order are all about curiosity and experimentation, the twin enablers of inventiveness.
Inventiveness, indeed, is the new creativity. It is inventiveness of brand custodians that will help recognise and leverage new information, new consumers, new behaviour, new consumption, new media, new advocates and new channels. It is inventiveness that will help interpret a cultural foresight into a new advocacy and influence. It is inventiveness that’ll help trigger conversations, and steer them in the desired directions.
No wonder there are new functions like “Spontaneity Directors” that we are starting to come across to facilitate contagion. It is inventiveness that’ll help create the big channel idea. Perhaps the ‘GoJiyo’ platform of heritage brand Godrej trying to reinvent itself around innovation and brighter ideas was an attempt in that direction.
It is inventiveness that’ll enable leveraging of new media with the old. No wonder the large media companies are infusing their organisations with not just mainstream planners but also creativity.
It is inventiveness that’ll help go beyond a TVC and print ad to create new optimal combinations for consumer engagement and experience. Frooti’s offline acts and commercials based on gags may have ended up more as a different TVC and not truly inventive as an idea, but it was an effort in the right direction.
The writer is Chief Strategy Officer and Head, Water Consulting