Caitlin Stanway-Williams

Tackling data-driven disruption as a Creative

Data-driven disruption is sweeping through creative industries. We sit down with Wayne Deakin, Executive Creative Director at Huge EMEA to talk about facing it head on.

“We use data to inform our thinking every day”

We can probably all agree that digital transformation has never happened at a faster pace. And leading the charge is what’s proven to be the buzzword of the last decade: data.

With more than 97% of organisations investing in data-driven practices and tech such as AI taking whole industries by storm, data-driven disruption is felt across the board. And it’s shaking up areas many thought were immune, including the very human process of creativity.  

We sat down with Wayne Deakin, Executive Creative Director at Huge EMEA to talk about how Creatives can face data and disruption head on – and use it to fuel a new era of creativity.


Wayne Deaking, Executive Creative Director at Huge

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work at Huge?

Originally from Oz, I’ve held creative leadership positions in Australia, UK, Europe and the US. Before coming to London I worked at Jung Von Matt (one of Germany’s largest networks). I then helped build Jam (a new social/mobile agency startup) for the Engine Group before moving to joint-Executive Creative Director across the Engine Group agencies. 

More recently I was Executive Creative Director of AKQA London and helped the agency win a number of industry titles and awards. Now I am Executive Creative Director for Huge EMEA where I focus on creating unfilled connected ideas that move businesses forward by providing meaningful and original experiences for their customers. 

Huge’s goal is to transform companies by designing these best-in-class digital experiences, driven by strong creativity and rooted in technology, data, and organisational strategy. This user-centric approach has made us the fastest-growing agency of the past decade.

Wayne is Executive Creative Director at

What are your key challenges as a Creative Director?

All industries are facing massive disruption. Helping clients solve business problems in this disruptive landscape to connect with customers is the biggest challenge. Be it via products, campaigns or technology solutions, there’s a key need to help foster closer connections between brands and their customers. 

Helping our clients stay ahead (or jump ahead!) of their rivals is an everyday challenge. 

What does your day-to-day look like? Does data play a role?

Without sounding cliché, it’s always different. 

“Data plays a massive part in helping to connect emotional storytelling with beautiful craft and intelligence”

Because Huge was founded in a user-centricity approach, we spend a lot of time helping brands and businesses make the most of opportunities. Data is core to this. We use data to inform our thinking every day. 

What tools could you not live without?

Huge are technology agnostic so that’s too hard to answer. As a creative business that leverages data and technology it’s all about what tools best solve the unique business and creative challenges. Because we work with global, EMEA and local clients, it’s always something we’re looking at.

Can you explain your creative process to us? Does data come into play here?

100% – but I’m not going to give away our approach because that’s like asking KFC to tell you their 11 secret herbs and spices! 

But – joking aside – we always start with an in-depth understanding of our audience/users, the landscape and the future landscape opportunities. Data plays a vital part by informing our thinking, solutions and performance at every step


“Data plays a massive part in helping to connect emotional storytelling with beautiful craft and intelligence.”

I’m very focused on behavioural design. Data plays a massive part in helping to connect emotional storytelling with beautiful craft and intelligence.

Is AI having an impact on your industry? If yes, what is it? If no, do you think it will soon?

AI and machine learning are influencing every area of business, and our industry is no exception.  

“There are so many ways creative people can embrace AI and ML to help them make more beautiful and meaningful experiences or campaigns”

Artificial intelligence helps us to get to know our ideal client; his or her behaviour, needs, habits, spending motives, desires, favourite web behaviours and so on. As a result, we can make better products and UI or marketing campaigns that are more personalised. From measurement to performance that’s influencing now how we design.

I think Huge is very well placed to leverage AI and ML. But many organisations still lack the foundational practices to create value from AI at scale, for example mapping where their AI opportunities lie and having clear strategies for sourcing the data that AI requires.


“Artificial intelligence helps us to get to know behaviour, needs, habits, spending motives, desires, favourite web behaviours and so on”

Do you have any reservations in AI augmenting your creative choices?

I am a big fan of AI and creativity becoming closer aligned – it’s never going to be the machines taking over. Using robotic process automation, computer vision and machine learning are most commonly deployed to help inform better creative ideas that can connect with people. The same goes for design. 

Do you think AI and Creatives will work collaboratively in the future?

It’s already happening. I was lucky enough to be invited by D&AD last year to be part of a talk on AI. There are so many ways creative people can embrace AI and ML to help them make more beautiful and meaningful experiences or campaigns.

“Once creatives get past the fear factor and embrace and understand these technologies, there’s an amazing world of new opportunities”


“[We need] less mass media dystopia mindsets and stories. It’s just another tool to leverage.”

What do Creatives such as yourself need from AI in order for you to feel comfortable using it alongside your work?

Less mass media dystopia mindsets and stories. It’s just another tool to leverage, in my opinion. 

I’m sure when the camera and printing press were invented, we had similar conversations. Once creatives get past the fear factor and embrace and understand these technologies, there’s an amazing world of new opportunities and sharper work to be had

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