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February 5, 2015
Does Data Dull Creativity?
 
There seem to be two main viewpoints on research and data:

"Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought."
–Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

"Money won't buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem."
 
Bill Vaughan


Whatever the case may be, it is clear that the debate between research and creativity lives on, even to our day. When we look back to the golden age of advertising, we see that people like George Lois and David Ogilvy were against the likes of Bill Bernbach. The former appreciated the research and testing, and the latter wanted to go straight from the gut.

With the success of all of them, can we really pick a side? Probably not.

We write for Beyond Madison Avenue not to sway your opinion to ours. We love that BMA gave us the opportunity to encourage you to consider thinking about marketing and advertising and the practices within in a different way. Today, we want to encourage the use of data and research while relying on creative to deliver. This is not a new concept. Yet, though we are young in the industry, as studiers of it, the professionals entering marketing and advertising know the tactics without the background.

Background is important.

We are fans of data-supported creativity. As one of our articles stated months ago, there needs to be a more even mix between creative and data. Why this isn't mainstream continues to be not only bothersome, but frustrating.

We see nothing wrong with looking at how consumers are engaging with brands, and how they respond to certain messages. We should use that type of information to make sure a positive trend continues. However, if something works at a marginal degree, we should continue to take risks to see if higher engagement can be reached. Why settle for 60% customer retention when the question has never been asked about gaining 75% retention?

Data should drive creativity. Neither should stand alone; it's not good for anyone.

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Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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