Using marketing technology vs. being used by marketing technology

This week some of the most influential people in creative media, marketing, and advertising are all gathered together in one spot—Cannes—for the annual Cannes Lions festival. And just like every year, luminaries in the marketing and design fields share insights they’ve learned while working with brands large and small.

We’ve been keeping an eye on the proceedings and noticed one talk that made us stop and think. It was a presentation given by designer and CEO Nir Wegrzyn and artist Ori Gersht about the way technology both enhances and degrades our ability to be creative. You can get a taste of it here:

While the talk covers a lot of ground—including the way visuals transcend the written word and the reasons that creativity and art have a cherished and important role to play in marketing—the part that stood out most for us was this idea from Wegrzyn: “Our ability to work through the new technology is critical because we…still have to find new ideas to bypass the technology, cut through the lenses, get through the Facebooks of the world, and into people’s heads.”

We thought this was a valid sentiment in today’s age of multi-platform, technology-first thinking. In fact, it’s similar to what we advise our own clients: make sure your marketing technology is working for you, to share your core ideas and values, rather than blocking you from sharing your message amid the noise of our always-connected world.

Don’t get me wrong: technology is a cornerstone of what we do as marketers everyday. New innovations, new and easier ways to communicate, and even new ways to shake up industries and tired business practices are sorely needed to move the world forward.

But, when it comes to sharing “new ideas” with the world, technology can also be a hindrance. As Wegrzyn notes, the explosive growth of social media platforms like Facebook or the increasing reliance of consumers on a handful of smartphone apps or content channels (what he calls “lenses”) reduces the likelihood of unorthodox, creative, or artistic ideas reaching the audiences they need to reach in order to germinate. That means that, paradoxically, while we have more channels and more tools than ever, it’s even harder for an important but unexpected message to make it through the noise to reach the end customer. We are simply too selective and too overwhelmed to listen.

Even as brands, we run the risk of overreliance on technology at the expense of sharing our unique and creative ideas and stories. Utilizing all these technology channels, whether it’s a new social media outlet or a cutting-edge new digital tool designed to revolutionize your marketing, can veer dangerously close to clutter. And as any designer can tell you, with clutter inevitably comes confusion.

We’ve talked about the paradox of choice here before and the ways that brands and companies can move their businesses forward by making disciplined choices. We believe the same rules can be applied when you’re trying to share your message to a world that’s often oversaturated with technology, be it social media or smartphone apps or Internet “burnout” and overwhelm.

Wegrzyn and Gersht emphasize how creativity is the key to cutting through this technology-linked noise (Gersht says that strong visual images and creative ideas actually “create the world” for the audience by redefining the way they think about ideas and brands.) We certainly agree. But we’d add another concept in there, too, one of our favorite watchwords: discipline. By harnessing the twin power of creativity and discipline, we believe it’s easier to create streamlined and focused ideas and concepts that do exactly what Wegrzyn recommends: bypass the busy buzz of the Internet, the noisy stream of Facebook, the lens of endless new digital technology, and get into peoples’ heads.
Want more insights from Cannes Lions this week? Take a look at their live stream to catch all the presentations as they happen.

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