SYDNEY: Sir John Hegarty, leading adman and founder of the BBH agency, has urged marketers not to be in thrall to Big Data and to remember their creative roots while also taking a swipe at the rise of procurement.

Speaking at the Global Marketer Conference in Sydney, reported by Ad News, he said he'd come into the business to create inspiring work and that great brands were inspiring. But he argued that marketing was now holding back the creative side of the industry.

"I believe that you have to create a competitive advantage with creativity," he declared. "It seems obvious, but I spend so much of my time trying to convince marketers to be more creative."

He maintained that this was because marketers were now driven by process and by data.

"When process overtakes innovation, that's how you know a company is on the way out," he said. "What we now have in our industry is procurement taking the value out of everything."

He pointed to Kodak as an example of how a fixation with process could sink a brand, noting that it had gone bankrupt around the same time as the innovative Instagram was being acquired for $1bn.

"You all want it to be a science, to get the equation right and go home, but selling stuff has never been a science, it's about persuasion and it's an art," he told his audience of marketers.

And he reminded them that creativity and innovation did not necessarily mean risk. "Don't talk about risk," he said. "Talk about excitement. Make exciting ads."

He would probably not have been enthused, however, by the findings of a study produced by Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, which reported that the top areas for increased marketing spend in the coming year would be data and analytics and marketing automation.

In comments reported by B&T, Derek Laney, Director of Product Marketing & Management for Asia Pacific, said marketers were shifting their focus from customer acquisition to customer engagement.

This hardly tallied with Hegarty's view that "a brand is made not just by the people who buy it but also by the people who know about it and that requires broadcast, however you define it".

Further reports from the conference will appear in Warc's Event Reports section.

Data sourced from AdNews, B&T; additional content by Warc staff