Killing me softly (with technology)

I love ads. I enjoy scrutinising, analysing, living and breathing them. Like any human being, I am a sucker for inspirational, sappy and humorous ads. My all time favourites? Ads with cats.

To me, ads are everything. They are the only piece of news I remember, the only form of viral I know. I love them, both print and digital, out-of-home or delivered right to my inbox. But lately, I’ve been getting increasingly annoyed by the incessant use of technology in lieu of creativity in advertising, and by how it is lauded for being smart/groundbreaking/game changing/cutting edge. I am especially concerned with the fact that the social media is blindly giving thumbs ups to any ad featuring drones, virtual reality, digital billboards and the like.

Don’t get me wrong, I think technology is cool. In fact, I am stoked to be living in the digital age. I am just worried that technology might one day overshadow the power that is found in the simplicity of the one ‘big idea’.

Sometime back when QR codes were first introduced, I remember someone suggesting to me, ‘How about having the QR code as the key visual? That would be so cool.’ Scroll down 5 years later and now you’ve got drones delivering Coke to construction workers with the slogan “Happiness from the sky”. Great intentions. Unfortunately, all I could remember from the whole episode was: some cause… some message… REMOTE-CONTROLLED DRONES!!!

Is creativity being smothered by technology? Or is applied technology the new form of creativity? 

I believe that as creatives, we need to see the beauty in experimentation, and especially with the advancements in technology, more people are telling us that it is OK to fail. Fail early, fail often, they say. However, in the context of advertising, we must remember to never let technology get in the way of storytelling. It is ironic, but the more we try to focus on the use of technology to communicate, the harder we will fall. 

The way I see it, creatives of today and tomorrow should fully embrace digital. Not simply for the sake of being digital, but with one bigger picture in mind — human connections. 

And this applies not just to ad makers but to all content creators as well. Whether you are a photographer, film maker, UX specialist or graphic designer, I hope you never fall into the trap of using your creations solely for the sake of showcasing technology. The questions you should always ask, is “How can technology benefit our audience?” and “How can technology change a person’s life?”

As for brands, embracing change, or digital transformation is not one man’s job. It is also not something that can be achieved by a boosted post on Facebook, some unskippable YouTube ads, or those awesome Carousel ads on Instagram, for that matter. 

For true digital transformation to take place, brands need to find a partner who can help you see the big picture. You need someone who is creatively and strategically driven, and understands that your target audience comes before technology, because that is the only way to get your brand stories into their thought catalogues, not straight into their browsing history or cache, waiting to be cleared.

Are you a creative who is feeling the same way about technology? I would love to hear from you on Twitter. Or, better yet, join me for lunch every #HawkerThursday. We’ll be waiting!

Howie Wong is an Art Director at Acoustic
Follow Howie on Twitter @heyfloyd
Follow Acoustic @AcousticAgency
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