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Is Creativity Dead?

It can be said that in this age of ‘always on’ the collective attention span has been reduced to mere milliseconds, and social media has made every one of us content creators and publishers.

Is the world doomed to become saturated with an endless stream of homogenised content? Are originality and inventiveness really dying out? Or are these just the mutterings of lazy creatives?

We asked our specialists their opinions on the ever-changing creative landscape and how they keep creating fresh, unique content.

Are original ideas harder to develop now we have access to a constant source of content online?

Head of Social and PR, Alexei Lee: As creative people we all recycle ideas, but the unique bit is the spin you put on the core thought so it takes on a life of its own and is relevant to your audience. It’s also easy to forget that your current audience may not have ever been exposed to the concept that inspired your own. Many of the films we know and love are essentially remakes of older movies, books, or even folklore. They are just updated for a current audience, who wouldn’t relate to the original work.

Design Director, Darren Wilson: I don’t think it’s lack of new ideas that’s the problem but rather our designers are given goals to achieve through what we produce, so this does take the creativity from what we design. Designers must have two hats on, the creative hat and the commercial hat. User behaviour and data dictate design now; we design things around what works best for the user, rather than what looks beautiful.

Head of Brand Consultancy, David Adams: The short answer I think is yes. In reality, I think it’s pretty realistic to say that it’s now very difficult to come up with a truly original idea given the sheer volume of creative output worldwide. Perhaps the best you can achieve is to create ideas that are so highly tailored and relevant to your target audience, that the result is a brand, an advert or slogan that resonates with them in such a way that it feels personal and original.

How do you think social media has affected creativity in this industry in the last 5 -10 years?

Alexei: Social media has changed how people interact with creative work, and this inevitably means creatives need to respond accordingly. The sheer volume of content being delivered to an individual every time they check their feed means they expect to be wowed in a very small space of time, and it’s much harder to maintain their attention even once they have engaged. You’ve got seconds to grab their attention so the biggest challenge is achieving that ‘thumb-stop’ moment as they scroll.

Darren: I would say it has affected the way we deliver things. Social media has changed expectations in the sense people now want content in bite-sized chunks. Businesses want to get their message across and users want the message to be short and sweet so this has prompted us to be more creative and think more sharply.

What other challenges are you faced with today?

Alexei: Aside from the challenge of standing out amidst the noise, we also have the challenge of how to make sure content reaches the audience in the first place. With the arrival of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the dominance of algorithm-driven platforms like Google Search and Facebook, we’ve now got this layer of technology which is deciding whether our audience is going to be interested in the content or not,and we’ve never had that before. This means we must create content which works with the algorithm, as well as the audience. With human gate-keepers such as editors we at least have the opportunity to inspire and persuade (and take out for the odd drink!). With AI, we are at the mercy of bots to decide whether our content is of value.

David: One challenge is certainly restrictive briefs. A crucial element to successful design is clients actually allowing their agency to be creative in the first place, to be brave and to trust in the agency’s interpretation of the brief based on a deep understanding of their brand, target audience and marketing objectives. One recent example of where this happened with positive results is for a small independent brewery we started working with in 2016. Our creative vision for the brand was trusted by the client – seeing the value in what we wanted to achieve. The resulting new logo and bottle label designs saw beer sales double in the first year from launch.

Have client expectations changed over the last few years?

David: I don’t think expectations have really changed, quite understandably every client wants more for less – whether that be website traffic, brand awareness or campaign ROI. What has changed however are the challenges to achieving this, particularly for those with smaller budgets given the competitiveness of most sectors. Agencies and marketers can do much to meet and overcome these challenges – simply by ensuring that the required commercial intelligence sits behind any brief, campaign or strategy, to ensure that the creative ideas stand the very best chance of having the desired effect.

Is creativity in the industry dying?

Well, while this increasingly digital, always on world certainly presents challenges, we at Fat Media think not. Creativity will always exist while creatives do; they are the ones who continue to make content which engages the world and helps businesses reach and delight their audience.

If you’d like to speak to any of our creatives about what Fat Media can do for you, drop us an email at [email protected].