Six Trends in Digital Creativity

Today, we’re in the midst of a creative revolution being driven by technology. Code is being added to the core creative process, enabling new forms of brand expression and engagement. Yet the need for human insights, breakthrough ideas and emotional stories is still very much at the core of great advertising. Our connected world is giving brands more dimensions and touch points, but they still need something compelling to offer in order to create a real connection.
The project Art, Copy & Code is experimenting with innovative brands to bring amazing ideas to life through technology. The project outlines a series of six trends in digital creativity. For the past week, we’ve presented one trend a day on our Google+ pages and today, we wanted to bring it all together for you.
The six trends in digital creativity are:
1. Connected Objects (let’s get phygital)
2. Re-Imagined Canvases (growing new ideas in familiar ground)
3. Useful Marketing (creating tools, not just ads)
4. Audiences of One (crafted just for you)
5. Collaborative Storytelling (the audience is part of the show)
6. Data Stories (the emotional life of numbers)
Trend #1 – Connected Objects (let’s get phygital):
It used to be that there was the ‘real’ world and the digital world and the two rarely met. Not anymore. Thanks to ever-evolving technologies like NFC, RFID and Bluetooth, as well as real-time information like Twitter, the offline and online worlds are increasingly rubbing shoulders. Physical events are triggering actions online, and vice-versa, creating new opportunities for marketers to invite people to interact with their products through the web.
  • In Coca Cola’s “You Decide Who Wins” campaign, viewers saw a Coke commercial which explained a Twitter contest: people could tweet throughout the TV show they were watching and vote on which Coke commercial they wanted to see next; the commercial with the most votes was aired at the end of the TV show.
  • In the Tweet for Tea” campaign, South African brand BOS Ice Tea created a “Tweet-activated” vending machine that dispensed a BOS Ice Tea every time someone tweeted the hashtag #BOSTWEET4T. They linked the real life experience of tasting BOS Ice Tea with something that was immediately shareable via people’s social networks.


Trend #2 – Re-Imagined Canvases (growing new ideas in familiar ground):
Innovation doesn’t always have to mean inventing something new. Bringing fresh thinking to established media and ad formats can be an easy and inexpensive way to stand out in a connected world. Sometimes it’s about the unexpected marriage of an idea and an existing technology. Or it can be a matter of taking a well-known ad space and making it sing with an innovative creative approach. Whether you’re crafting surprising experiences with pre-roll, giving the classic printed circular an online dimension, or simply bringing wit and charm to search ads, there are plenty of opportunities on the modern web that can be exciting without being brand new.
  • In Sony Picture’s Skyfall campaign, Spinnaker wanted to illustrate the fun and adventure of the Skyfall movie, by allowing viewers to partake in the motorbike chase in the opening scene. They built a display campaign where viewers could scan a QR code with their mobile or tablet device and then use their mobile phone as the “video game controller” to control the action occurring on the screen.
  • In the “Assasin’s Creed” campaign, video game publisher Ubisoft along with Biborg created mobile ads aimed at immersing the user in a fully interactive and innovative experience. Additionally, the digital outdoor campaign used synchronized screens to catch the audience’s attention and engage them to follow character’s steps in epic adventures.


Trend #3: Useful Marketing (creating tools, not just ads)
Marketing has become less about talking and more about doing. While ideas about branded utility have been tossed around for a while, lately they’ve been getting more serious attention. Ads that make people’s lives easier, more productive and more fun can bring a brand’s promise to life in tangible ways.
  • Cadillac created an interactive video ad that mimicked their website. Within this ad unit, a viewer could watch Cadillac’s main commercial, but then could also also interact with a 360 degree view of the car, pictures of the inside of the car, and different colors for the car. Users got a website experience all through a single ad unit.
  • The KLIPPBOK by IKEA campaign is an iPad app which gives users access to IKEA products all year round. KLIPPBOK gives home decoration enthusiasts a space to mix’n’match IKEA products to create ideas for their home. It takes advantage of the tactile and immediate nature of touch screen devices and lends itself to being a freeform creative tool (in this case a scrapbook). The portability allows people to engage whenever inspiration strikes; at home, on the bus to work or when they’re on a break. It also means they can easily share ideas with family and friends.


Trend #4: Audiences of One (crafted just for you):
The best storytellers have always been able to make us feel as if they’re speaking to each one of us individually. Can technology take that idea further? Using real-time data and cues like time of day, location and interests, we can already tailor and personalize ads in ways that make them more valuable and meaningful. Instead of creating messages aimed at audiences, consumer segments and personas, we can now simply talk to people the way they want to be talked to.
  • In Project Re-Brief, Alka Seltzer re-imagined their original “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” campaign, to showcase the entire day that Ralph ate the whole thing. Using the power of real-time creative, they were able to build an ad that automatically stitched together video pieces that reflected the current weather, time, part of day, location, and interests of the person viewing the ad in the moment.
  • In Hyundai’s “Elantra Driveway Decision Maker” campaign, the company wanted to create an innovative way to help car buyers decide between the three Elantra models. The creative team combined Google Street View, projection mapping and real-time 3D animation to help viewers see what an Elantra would look like in their own driveway. Viewers began by selecting one of three Elantra models. Then with projection mapping, the chosen Elantra would drive through a colorful digital world, transitioning into Google Maps, then Google Street View where it drove down their street and arrived in their actual driveway. Once there, they could change the colors, trim levels or model.


Trend #5: Collaborative Storytelling (the audience is part of the show):
It’s an old maxim that ideas can come from anyone and anywhere, but the web has been great proof of it. Given the opportunity, people have consistently surprised us with their boundless creativity. In traditional media, audiences are passive spectators. They sit back and watch a story created by someone else. But on the web, we can harness their desire to co-create with us by building platforms that bring ideas to life which could never be accomplished alone. More and more, inspiring this kind of participation is going to be crucial for brands.
  • BMW wanted to celebrate the holiday season in a way that was meaningful, yet relevant to the brand. So they told a story about the journey that everyone takes over the holidays – The Road Home. They asked more than 50 employees at their agency to record their journeys on smartphones and personal cameras as they traveled home for Thanksgiving. They then took all the footage and edited it in-house. The end result was a video narrative celebrating the best road there is and an ad campaign that got right at the heart of the individual’s experience being “on the road.”  Check it out here.
  • In the Stella Artois “Christmas Carole” campaign, fans and users created unique, personalized holiday greetings from “Christmas Carole” for their friends and family. The interactive holiday greeting showed “Christmas Carole” on a journey to perform a festive song at your friend’s home. The experience used a combination of Google Street View, Google Maps and satellite imagery, Google Places, and Google’s Directions and Geocoding APIs to build the custom, personalized film.


Trend #6: Data Stories (the emotional life of numbers)
Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion (that’s 2,500,000,000,000,000,000) bytes of data. To put that in perspective, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years. It’s a crazy thought, but it’s also an exciting one.
We’ve begun using this knowledge for things like beautiful data visualizations and targeted messaging, but we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. In the right hands, data can be used to tell emotional stories that grow and change over time. And, because data-driven executions are grounded in cold, hard facts, they’re tough to argue with. Which is also kind of a plus.
  • Instead of creating content for Twitter, Evian decided to create content with Twitter. They wondered, “What if Twitter ceased to be a tool and instead became a toy?” The answer to this was a “digital toy” called Evian MeloTweet, which transformed Twitter into a musical experience and let users interact with their Twitter timeline in a fresh new way. Twitter data and posts from a user’s feed is depicted as marbles in a musical “marble-factory” that the user “composes” from a library of parts. By playing with Twitter data in a new way, while still retaining the original product’s features, Evian was able to achieve a high level of user engagement and convey their “Live Young” spirit and brand.
  • Vodafone’s “Lost Phone Experiment introduced Mobile Protect, an app that allows smartphones users to track their phone in case it is lost or wipe data from a distance. In this particular campaign, the app measured the phone’s location, movement, and whether it was being used to make phone calls or simply to browse the web. The data was updated in real-time and visitors could browse back in time to see where the phones were dropped, where they got picked up and where they were ultimately returned.
These six trends in digital creativity highlight the fact that brands are beginning to push the boundaries of the online medium to provide beautiful, engaging, and innovative experiences to consumers.
Know of other great examples like these? Submit them to the Creative Sandbox Gallery.
Know of other trends in digital creativity? Let us know!

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