#worldview – the influence of social channels on consumer behaviour and creativity in Asia

It is well documented that the impact social networks have
had on both consumer and brand behaviour is enormous. With total transparency
of information, and the ability to populate knowledge at lightning speed,
consumers have taken control of the brandscape in which we exist.

This period of seismic and unparalleled change for the
industry is forcing us to question the very nature of what creativity actually
is. The most fundamental principles that the advertising industry has been
built upon are being torn down by today’s multi-platform, open-source, viral
environment.

“It takes a different kind of creativity to deal with this
new era, and the creative industry is feeling its way,” explained David
Wheldon, Global Brand Director for Vodafone.

David Wheldon

“It’s about being prepared to accept the Web 2.0 movement,
and changing corporate behaviours to empower people to represent the company
and engage with consumers in a meaningful way,” continued Wheldon. “It takes a
lot of preparation to get it right: a shift in the internal culture of big
companies to not only participate in a dialogue with consumers, but also to be
able to act on those conversations.”

Michael
Maedel, International President for JWT, agrees that the Web 2.0 revolution
has drastically altered the rules of the game and, further, research
that JWT conducted shows that social networking holds a different emotional
significance in the East. In Asia, people use social networking not just to
stay in touch with old friends, but to meet new people, try on new
identities and experiment in a world that lacks strict social boundaries.

Michael
Maedel

“If you
analyse societies that have been, or currently are, repressed for cultural,
political or religious reasons,” Maedal explained, “then you will see that
social media has become an incredibly important tool within the democratisation
of those societies in terms of freedom of speech and freedom of
expression. That is the single central reason why social networking
has become such a fundamental, and truly integral, part of everyday
life in countries such as Saudi Arabia, India, and especially China.”

It is the fact that social networking has become so critical
to everyday life, fusing people’s physical and digital realities into one, that
is the key to understanding how creativity in the brand environment,
particularly within Asia, is changing so dramatically.

“Social media is a cultural anchor in Asia, and particularly
in China” surmised Dirk Eschenbacher,
Executive
Creative Director Asia Pacific
for Tribal DDB Worldwide, “and so the creative
process in the region has become much more about media collaborations and
developing a true understanding of current trends and social relevance than
about big interruptive ideas.”

Dirk
Eschenbacher

“The key
today is about generating ideas that are talked about and shared,” continued
Eschenbacher, “so we need to understand the power of online PR, and the viral
nature of word-of-mouth behaviours, and from that understanding be able to
develop a broad canvas of relevant snippets of brand activity across multiple
social channels that generate participation and interactivity. Creating rich
digital experiences, or big traditional campaigns, through owned or bought
media is simply not the most effective model for brands today; it is through
earned media that conversations with consumers can have genuine resonance.”

In trying to understand what the new definition of
creativity is, therefore, it becomes apparent that our definition of creative
talent must also be explored. If it is no longer the traditional Copywriter
& Art Director team, then what has it become?

“We believe in creating small, nimble cells of talented
people from planning through to technologists through to trend followers
through to copywriters and designers,” explained Eschenbacher, “in order to
generate ideas that will be talked about, shared and interacted with. As far as
I’m concerned, the creative department is much bigger in this new world,
because anyone involved can come up with the ideas.”

A similar, but subtly different, viewpoint on what
creativity is becoming came from Keith Smith, International President of TBWA,
who explained, “our philosophy for some time has been that everyone at the
agency must be fluent in digital arts, but our ability to develop big global
ideas for brands is still at the heart of our Disruption process.”

Keith
Smith

“The role for creative talent is more important than ever,”
Smith continued, “because great ideas will drive both brand and commercial
success. I do believe that ideas can come from anywhere, but top creative
talent is still the heartbeat of this industry. It is within the Media Arts
department, once a big global idea has been developed, that the nature of
implementation of those ideas at a regional and local level has shifted
dramatically.”

The answer to what creativity is becoming in this brave new
world, where social networking has become the central spoke, is not yet
apparent. But one thing is for certain: the role of creative talent and
creative agencies is more important than ever before in driving competitive
differentiation both for our clients and for ourselves.

  • Tim Little

    I think social media marketing is expanding to include mobile Web with smart phones and traditional channels. It’s about integration and multiple channels to reach target markets.

    Tim Little
    Publisher, MarketingListBroker.com

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