LONDON: The Admap Prize 2015 has been won by Ben Essen, head of planning at integrated agency Iris, for his essay in which he argues that Big Data is too often seen as a tool for reassurance and the achievement of certainty.

Entrants were asked to address the question 'Does Big Data Inspire or Hinder Creative Thinking?' In Embrace the Outliers, Essen maintained that, rather than spend their time searching for trend lines within Big Data, marketers should be looking for the outliers within data – the anomalies that lead to a genuinely fresh insight that inspires creativity.

Commenting on the winning essay, Marc Mathieu, svp/marketing for Unilever and an Admap Prize judge, said: "This year's Admap Prize winning essay demonstrates that, powered by creativity and data, those who are willing to embrace the outlier can help reinvent marketing for this new Age, reconnecting marketing to its original aim - to improve people's lives."

The Admap Prize, which is sponsored by Kantar, encourages and rewards excellence in strategic thinking in brand communications. The Gold Award and a $5,000 cheque will be presented to Essen at an Admap Prize celebration event at Cannes Lions on June 25th, billed 'Data and Creativity: A Beautiful Tension', with contributions from Marc Mathieu, JWT's Guy Murphy and data visualisation expert David McCandless.

The Silver Award was won by Charlie Ebdy, strategy director at Vizeum in London, for his essay titled The Empathy Engine. He argued that Big Data enables agencies to plan on what people actually do, not what they say they do, and so achieve greater consumer empathy and a clear flow of understanding between advertiser and shopper.

The Bronze Award went to Finola Austin, a WPP Fellow currently working as a planner at Ogilvy & Mather New York, for her essay titled You are the Star, I am the Creator. In this, she used the plot of the movie The Truman Show to demonstrate how consumer data can be used positively by recognising the fundamental importance of the individual.

"Kudos to Admap for picking the theme of the moment," said Mathieu. "Data or creativity? Art or science? Logic or magic? This year's essays provided for several hours of 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."

All the awarded and commended essays are published in the current issue of Admap and all the shortlisted essays plus other selected essays are available online at

Data sourced from Admap