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Tiago Barquinha

The importance of creativity and strategy in the digital era

The potential of digital marketing is none other than gigantic. We bring you the magic formula: creativity and strategy (featuring the best examples).
creativity strategy

In the competitive and unpredictable world we live in, differentiation is key, even though increasingly difficult to achieve.

The success of a brand often depends on its uniqueness and its ability to maintain this characteristic over the long term.

But if we just stop to think for a second: how is it possible to achieve this? The magic formula is much simpler than what you might imagine: creativity and strategy.

A combination of a unique concept with careful planning is without a doubt a potential winner. It can be a new form of reaching a target, it can be the use of a new digital platform, it can be the use of new technology, or a simple transposition of values that leads to a significant change.

The possibilities are immense.

Why you need a creativity strategy

In this digital age we are living in, creativity has become one of the most important driving factors in marketing communication. Brands and agencies are constantly looking for innovative ideas that can offer not only ingenious solutions to existing problems, but also anticipate and foresee future ones.

The current process of digital transformation that companies are going through is progressively changing the way they employ exponential technologies and develop new digital business models, giving a huge competitive advantage to the most original and creative ones.

With digital being one of today’s biggest stages and having an unimaginable reach, why not use it in the most creative and differentiating way possible?

The more innovative and revolutionary a brand’s strategy is, the greater will be its impact on digital media, and consequently, with the power these media have in the contemporary market, the consequences can and should be remarkable. 

The brands that invest and, above all, take risks in a courageous creativity strategy, are the ones that get better results. The confidence in the creativity field also shows to themselves to be really sure of what they represent, opening a door of opportunities and challenges.

Here are some case studies that illustrate the power of creativity in digital brand campaigns.

Digital-driven campaign to reframe racial slur

Black & Abroad, a travel brand dedicated to the modern black traveler, has hijacked the deprecatory statement “Go back to Africa” to change the narrative around its use and help increase tourism in all the continent countries. Don’t go anywhere, you want to read this.

As was said before, the campaign works by initially selecting abusive posts online containing the statement “Go back to Africa” and overlaying them with beautiful images of the continent’s diverse landscapes and thriving cities.

A custom-created AI platform uses Google Vision to crowd-source images from people who already live in or have visited an African country. The platform filters the images based on location, subject, quality, and relevancy. 

It also acts as a real-time content marketing engine, aggregating relevant imagery before adding it to a dedicated campaign website and distributing it through Black & Abroad’s social media channels. This activity also encourages African Americans to post their own images and interact via the hashtag #GoBackToAfrica

This campaign was only possible due to the use of data and technology. And also, of course, the courage to address racism as a provocative entry point that the target audience could connect with. Without a doubt, a very good example of the potential of the magic formula: creativity and strategy.

Lifestyle brands engagement with gaming

Another great example is presented to us by Nike.

The American brand has created a virtual world inspired by their real headquarters in Oregon within the online video game platform Roblox, from which, in line with its brand values, it invites us “to turn sport and play into a lifestyle”, but on this occasion offering us the possibility of participating in an amazing immersive experience into the digital world.  

What makes Nike’s campaign stand out is how the brand is aligning with an existing behavior on the platform (to create games) and inviting people to contribute to Nikeland’s offering. As a result, the virtual space is more likely to retain users and increase the amount of time spent with the brand within Roblox.

With Nikeland, it is the second time the sports brand has collaborated with Roblox. In 2019, the two companies teamed up to create Nike Air Max Day on the platform. Since then, Nike has been scaling up its digital strategy, even recently filing patents for its core brands in the online space.

Anyway, Nike is not the only brand that has decided to bet on the digital gaming world. Balenciaga has become the first high fashion label to drop in Fortnite. Now, players can buy digital outfits inspired by real-life Balenciaga pieces in a virtual version of a Balenciaga boutique and the game’s Item Shop.

A real-life Fortnite x Balenciaga series will also be available in selected Balenciaga stores and at Fans who purchase real-life apparel will unlock the Balenciaga outfits in Fortnite.

Balenciaga’s Fortnite characters and outfits were also used to create real-world immersive 3D billboard experiences in London (see video), New York, Tokyo, and Seoul. In a further twist, that same real-life billboard has been replicated digitally in the virtual store hosted in Balenciaga’s Creative Hub. 

Multiple luxury fashion brands have collaborated with digital gaming platforms. Louis Vuitton collaborated with Riot Games’ League of Legends back in 2019, Burberry has designed skins for China’s biggest video game, Gucci has engaged with games such as Animal Crossing, Roblox, and The Sims, while Ralph Lauren is diving into esports sponsorship. 

This is a trend that must continue to be explored because gaming is the world’s most lucrative entertainment industry, being a key channel where brands want to connect with hard-to-reach younger consumers (18-34). 

Creativity strategy: the simplicity of a Social Media debate

In a completely different area from those mentioned above comes KitKat.

With huge competitors worldwide, this brand was able to create an online campaign based on the simple question of the best way to eat the chocolate bar.

In just 48 hours, this question generated a debate on social media, reaching 4.3 million views on TikTok and Instagram, with the campaign videos reaching 7 million views by the end of the campaign.

For these stunning results, KitKat turned to creators well known in the industry, namely Millie Ford, with nearly one million followers, and The Rybka Twins with 13.4 million, as well as Australian actor Michael Caton. Each one showed, on their social media, the way they ate their KitKat. And… you guessed it, internet users spoke out on whether they agreed or not. 

This is another example that shows the real potential of the digital, a simple question turned out to be, in the short term, an opportunity for outreach and sharing, however, in the long term, it became an excellent way for the creation of brand value. 

Keeping up with the digital world (and the tools it can provide), is becoming an indispensable factor in staying on the cutting edge alongside the biggest and most iconic brands. Almost every industry is being shaped by the digital age in one way or another.

From new methods of advertising to new opportunities to reach untapped markets. To stay on top, brands must know how to take advantage of the opportunities that the evolution in digital marketing presents. 

The focus for the real success of a brand should always be the differentiation and the creation of value, and nothing is better than doing this through the alliance between creativity and digital. 

Tiago Barquinha is Country Manager at Contagious Portugal, CEO and CCO at Mojobrands, and mentor and invited professor at Católica Porto Business School. His specialties are Brand Lifestyle, Brand Activation, Brand Innovation, Brand Management, Social Media and Internet Brand Analysis and Monitoring, Business Development and Management.

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