Gazing at the Stars and Looking for Patterns

Views on merging data and creativity to supercharge your work

This editor's note is an introduction to Data + Creativity 2020, a Muse by Clio insight report exploring that critical intersection in marketing—and how to leverage it to create more impactful work. Click here to download the full report of 12 essays, or here to read them on the Muse site.

"The IBM can count more stars in one day than we can in a lifetime," the guy installing the giant computer at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce proudly declared on Mad Men. To which Don Draper famously replied: "But what man lay on his back counting the stars and thought about a number?"

Data has always been a bit terrifying to creative people. It's often seen—sometimes fairly, sometimes not—as a replacement for intuition rather than a way to supplement it. Still, a half-century after Don Draper stared down his fictitious foe, creatives don't have much of a choice. Marketers want numbers, and the creative work must deliver them—and be informed by them.

Our new insight report on Data + Creativity suggests, though, that it needn't be such a battle. There have been enough success stories around data-driven creativity by now that the better creative marketers out there know the value of it. The essays here offer further proof. Whether it's 360i mining listening habits to create an innovative music program, or Google helping marketers craft messages in real time, or Salesforce using data to refine its storytelling, or Burger King building impactful stunts around technology, the examples are a blueprint for how to embrace data as a creative tool—not shun it as an obstacle to be skirted at all costs.

To be sure, data, employed poorly, can demoralize a creative team and its passion for the big idea. But used smartly, it helps creative ideas connect even more powerfully—when and where consumers are most open to them. And this is even more true in a world turned ever more digital during the pandemic.

Thanks to all the contributors of this report for gazing at the stars, and seeing wonder in the numbers as well.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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