Think Big March 21, 2019

Part 2: Influencers, Empathy and the End of the Big Idea

SXSW consistently brings the BBQ, the brains and the inspiration and this year’s trip down to Austin stayed right on brand. Team P&G took in some great talks so keep reading to get the goods.

Bias in Content Strategy

David Dylan Thomas is a content strategist and podcaster who spent the better part of last year learning and mastering more than 25 different biases our brains tend to subconsciously make. In his presentation Fighting Bias with Content Strategy, Thomas walked us through how our brains tend to make connections (both visually and through social interactions) that aren’t really there. When a content strategist understands these biases, they can put the learnings to good and potentially bad use. Good being an example of laying out content properly on a page so when it is scanned, the important info is consumed quickly. Bad being an example of positioning an opt-in checkbox on a page where the user doesn’t know what they are opting in for. Understanding these biases can be a powerful tool and content creators and strategists should understand how to properly wield it.

Influencer Marketing Takes A Big Step

Saray Dugas from Pinterest, Reesa Lake from The Digital Brand Architects, Kendall Sargeant from Revolve and Hilary Sloan from Shop Style took to the stage and talked about the evolution and future of influencer marketing. The engaging discussion touched on a lot of hot topics including how brands should choose the right influencers, properly using platforms like Instagram Stories and giving influencers the freedom to continue to create for themselves. As platform technology continues to evolve, tying influencers directly to purchasing is going to be increasingly more important. For those looking to expand a retail experience into the social space, influencers are definitely a strong way to start. Influencer marketing is a major part of a modern marketing plan and to hear it from some of the best in the business was very inspiring.

The Empathy Factor

Michael Ventura, the CEO and founder of strategy and design company Sub Rosa walked through one of the secrets to good work – empathy. Knowing and understanding real people is a valuable creative skill. Understanding their motivations, their emotions and how they feel can ultimately lead to some inspiring work. He challenged the audience to step outside of our biases to gain a truer, deeper understanding of who people are. He then shared a couple of examples of where empathy played an important role. Namely the Nike Hyperfeel, a shoe designed to engage the connection between mind and body. He also talked about the GE Mammography Challenge where they took the time to understand why women put monograms off. Discussions showed that women found the process painful and cold, so asked engineers to raise the room temperature 10 degrees. This simple change saw women’s perception of “pain,” dramatically reduced and the effectiveness (they found more cancer) of the machines went as women felt more relaxed.

Branding Delicious

Baker and entrepreneur Christina Tosi was joined by Michael Greenblatt from strategy and design agency Redscout to talk about the evolution of the Milk Bar brand. They discussed everything from the grassroots beginnings of the brand, to how Greenblatt actually worked in the bakery to get a sense of the brand before doing any work. This was definitely a great case study on how a brand can grow by equipping the people within the company. Redscout developed a design toolkit, but essentially just armed Milk Bar employees with cool tape, labels and colours to showcase to the world. Milk Bar isn’t just feeding us delicious cookies, they’re showing us how a brand can evolve from within.

Wave Goodbye To The Big Idea

Nick Law, the Chief Creative Officer from Publicis, dropped some serious truth bombs on the old-world advertising methods and those who are still caught up in “traditional” agency life. He talked about the evolution of the industry thanks to technology and how those who accept and embrace the inevitable shift will have an easier time producing better work. The other main factor he spoke to was how the digital thinker was once the outcast of the creative industry. Things have literally turned upside down since the early days and digital thinkers are finally being respected as innovators in creative agencies. But the biggest issue Law addressed in the creative industry is the myth of the “Big Idea.” It’s never been a viable way to measure work and it’s finally being taken over by a focus on strategy and creative execution. The future is bright for digital innovation, marketing, content creation and product development.  

That’s it from SXSW 2019. We’re full of new ideas, inspiration and Franklin’s brisket. Keep it weird, Austin. We’ll see you next year.

These words are by Scott Lew

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