Creative Data Judge and Chief Data Officer at Wavemaker David Fletcher explores the themes that arose from the Cannes Creative Data Lions 2019.
Some analogies stick way beyond their use-by date, and ‘data is the new oil’ is a case in point.
Data as something that needs to be discovered then refined before being put to purposeful application works reasonably well but no one seriously imagines petrochemicals as a hotbed of accessible and inspiring creativity. Oil has engineering. It has geeks. It has barons and an industry with a tendency to work at least in part against the long-term interests of sustainability for both the planet and its inhabitants. Oil is something to clean off your hands as quickly as possible.
So for all of the justified excitement around how data is transforming our industry, as a subject it comes just a little bit pre-tainted. Revolution this may be, but will it turn out to be one of the good ones?
I believe so when looking at the fantastic, residue-free data examples that made it to the shortlist and final medals in the Creative Data Lions at Cannes.
At this point, a new analogy is probably helpful. So instead of oil let’s think food and the kind of meal that blows you away. It will have fine sustainably sourced ingredients, carefully combined, cooked with skill and presented as feast for multiple. In all four areas demonstrative craft and innovation lift the conventional to the inspirational.
All of which gives us a much more positive frame for recognising best practice in data.
A theme in this years’ entries was finding new ingredients as well as re-imagining the application of high quality 1st party data sets. Several entries invited consumers to participate with algorithms combining their own personal details with public data to create highly personalised communications.
Spanish after-dinner liqueur brand Ruavieja ran a Christmas campaign that engaged a nation by encouraging people to estimate how much time they might have left in the company of a friend or family member, dramatically illustrating the opportunity to treat every human bond as precious.
Volvo made all of its internal data on crashes (both tests and from real-life) available to the rest of the auto industry, academics and anyone else with an interest in helping to remove the very real gender bias in deaths and injuries sustained in accidents: this bias having been created and sustained by the systemic use of more male than female crash test dummies.
Innovative combinations of ingredients enabled new commercial models. Brazilian e-bike company e-moving combined home and workplace location data with mapping and topography data to offer higher discounts to commuters with steeper routes to and from work. Diageo combined google street view imagery with data of key locations to answer a hitherto open but culturally resonant question of ‘the special colour of Seville’ – literally identifying (and Pantone-registering) a new colour that helped define Tanqueray flor de Sevilla gin.
We saw multiple claims of new processing approaches – almost all of them labelled AI. Amongst the overclaims were applications of genius. A gold medal went to Brazilian pet store Petz for applying facial recognition AI to dogs. Key indicators of interest were then used so that dogs themselves could sit with an owner’s computer or mobile to add toys and treats to an ecommerce basket, using the facial recognition AI as the trigger.
As the old adage has it, we “eat with our eyes first”. As a creative data jury, we were looking for data applications that generated an emotional or ‘system one’ response. Data applications that need to be thought about before it can be appreciated will never engage in the same way as the application that just grabs you.
German rail business, DB, beautifully responded to foreign travel interest signals in Facebook by pairing high quality near-lookalike images with the destination of interest shown next to a domestic destination and overlaid the images with the respective costs of travel to the two. Belgian road safety campaigners OVK built a simple utility that literally maps out how far you’ll travel when typing a text while driving.
The Grand Prix had all four elements. American travel company, Black & Abroad, mined social image data to find posts of black tourists in Africa. They created a bold, fresh brand idea – a travel campaign for Africa built on a racial slur – then crafted it into a bold data/technology idea, deploying AI at scale to make final human decisions achievable. Segmented targeting allowed for a multiplicity of messages according travel interests. “Go back to Africa” used data to help reclaim a sustainable high ground that created substantial commercial as well as cultural value.
More feasts like these, please!