Jergan Callebaut

The “integrators”: Why fusing creativity and data drives marketing performance

A McKinsey report has concluded that marketers who use creativity and data together achieve a much higher performance for their brand

“Creativity can be helped, guided, and validated by data and analytics”

In 2018, McKinsey concluded that “companies that harness creativity and data in tandem have growth rates twice as high as companies that don’t”.   

For their research, they interviewed a group of 200 CMOs and senior marketers. McKinsey found that a minority amongst them were those who understood creativity and data could have a unique relationship – a group they call “integrators”

Integrators are marketers who “are going a step further and integrating this power combo into all functions across the marketing value chain – from brand strategy and consumer insights, to customer experience, product, and pricing to content and creative development, media – even measurement,” explained McKinsey. “Far from robbing a brand of its soul, this fusion of skills and mindsets is an essential part of the modernisation of marketing to drive growth.”

McKinsey's survey

McKinsey’s survey uncovered that some senior marketers are CMOs are integrators

With the advent of new tech, this symbiotic relationship between creativity and data has only further boomed. Companies have developed ways of fusing creativity and data together, and a growing number are upskilling their marketers at all levels to become more data literate.

Justin Thomas-Copeland, President and CEO of RAPP New York, is a champion for creativity and data being used in tandem. He believes that ensuring that marketing is all about consumer engagement is key to succeeding in this approach.

Creativity can be helped, guided, and validated by data and analytics. And the reverse is also true, with data led with our soul and, seeing what the data tells us, pivoting as we go,” he explained in a Marketing Insider blog. “This should be a perpetual, dynamic yin and yang for the modern marketer.”

Using creativity and data together may sound counterintuitive, but all it really takes is a change of mindset. Let’s look at some ways to get you started integrating creativity and data into your processes and have you embracing an ‘integrator’ mindset. 

1. Letting data guide the direction of marketing campaigns 

Letting the data lead your marketing stories – rather than relegating it to a back-end function in marketing or an after-thought you use to justify decision-making – is a simple way to adopt the integrator mindset. 

This might mean commissioning research and letting those results guide your marketing story, or reassessing your data – which tends to mean facing up to some hard truths. 

Burger King is one brand that’s a fantastic example of how using data as a guide can turn your campaigns around

At the beginning of 2019, they were struggling with incredibly low brand awareness and engagement among millenials. After commissioning they found that their flagship product, The Whopper, had just 37% awareness across the UK – ouch.  

So they decided to focus a number of campaigns entirely around The Whopper. This included the notorious, and hilarious, stunt which saw Burger King trolling McDonalds by hiding a Big Mac behind a Whopper in every single one of their ads in 2019.


Burger King hid a Big Mac behind all the Whoppers they featured in ads in 2019

This data-led campaign has been a runaway success, winning the Mobile Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and catapulting them right back into public awareness.

Read more about Burger King’s data-driven brand transformation here

“Many make the mistake of thinking that data and creativity are polar opposites. But this couldn’t be further from the truth”

2. Conduct semantic content analysis

When marketers talk about data, far too often the conversation focuses on targeting and delivery, rather than optimisation of the creative. This is despite the fact that Ispos concluded that “creative quality” determines 75% of ad impact

Many make the mistake of thinking that data and creativity are polar opposites. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, because creative content actually contains a whole load of powerful data too: Creative data

Each campaign contains many, many data points such as imagery, layout, copy or colours. These can be identified with simple analysis of each creative that notes down all the elements that make it up.

Using these data points, combined with brands’ engagement data, you can begin to understand which elements correlate with performance for every audience and segment (a process we at Datasine call semantic content analysis). 

This process is simple with just a few campaigns on the go, but with dozens, hundreds or even thousands, semantic content analysis becomes a huge feat for just a person. This is where AI can step up to supercharge the process of analysing vast quantities of creative data. 

An AI, like our platform Datasine Connect, can augment the analysis of creatives and provide actionable insights into the visual elements your audience are finding more – or less – engaging in moments. Working collaboratively with an AI, we’ve seen the ROI of campaigns skyrocket by upwards of 77%

An integrator mindset needs to come with a holistic awareness of the importance of creative data, or it you will only ever be seeing half the picture. 

“Campaigns led by data require a constantly-experimental mindset and a willingness to change”

3. Enhance your agility 

Integrators are exceptionally agile marketers, according to McKinsey, because campaigns led by data require a constantly-experimental mindset and a willingness to change (and trust me, the data always wants to change things up). 

Adding agility to your campaigns is just one of the benefits a creative and data-driven mindset brings. But bare in mind, it does require multiple teams to collaborate in order to turnover quick campaigns.

Spotify is another prime example of a brand with a firm integrator mindset. It’s built a reputation for using data to create highly personalised, unique campaigns. The music streamer is constantly on-the-ball when it comes to incorporating current events and up-to-date with current musical trends.


Spotify are incredibly agile in how they use data in their campaigns

“We have a leadership team that gives us tremendous runway and a culture that enables not just creativity but the ability to move quickly,” remarked former VP of brand creative Jackie Jantos, adding that agility is “part of the company’s DNA”.

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Jergan Callebaut
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