LONDON: A total of 24 essays have been shortlisted for the Admap Prize 2015, sponsored by Kantar, in which contestants were asked to address the topic 'Does Big Data inspire or hinder creative thinking?'.

Now in its fourth year, this global, essay-based competition seeks to reward innovation and clarity in strategic thinking on the future effectiveness of brand communications. The complete shortlist can be read here.

The essay topic is one that is being hotly argued in all corners of the marketing industry and the question goes to the heart of the debate and anxiety around data. According to Marc Mathieu, svp/marketing at Unilever and an Admap Prize judge, the gathering of data, its manipulation and its employment is fundamental to the future of marketing.

"Kudos to Admap for picking the theme of the moment for its annual essay prize," he said. "Data or Creativity? Art or Science? Logic or Magic? This year's Admap Prize essays provided fascinating reading, comforting me further that we stand at the spring of a revolution in how we will look back at what we once held true in marketing, and smile at how innocent we were."

He argued that the industry was on the brink of "a total paradigm shift" which will be powered by technology and data.

"No more first, nor second, nor even zero moment of truths, but billions – one for each and every one of the people we serve, day in day out, powered by data, made personal – not big. Marketing, de-averaged!"

The essay question can be addressed in a range of ways and that was reflected in the variety of approach taken in the essays and the difference of opinion.

Admap Editor Colin Grimshaw observed that, between the extremes, "most people accept that the mass of data now being generated from consumer activity can be a positive, if channelled appropriately.

"Data can assist the creative process, if it isn't allowed to suppress human instinct and ingenuity. It can help develop the big idea, or the little idea, as long as it doesn't frustrate the advent of a 'eureka light bulb moment'. "

He also welcomed the "exceptional" geographic spread of entries, with essays received from 25 different countries, including many emerging markets.

The winners of the Admap Prize will be announced in May, with the Gold, Silver and Bronze awarded essays plus any Judges' Commended essays being published in the June edition of Admap.

A prize giving event will take place at Cannes Lions on June 25th at 4.30pm. This will include a debate on the topic of Data and Creativity with some renowned thought leaders on the topic. For an invitation please email

Data sourced from Warc