Creative Commerce Is at the Center of Industry Change

Headshot of Beth Ann Kaminkow, Global CEO at VMLY&R COMMERCE

The new canvas inspiring talent across brands and agencies

The recent Lions State of Creativity Study reported that over half of the brands and agencies surveyed saw securing talent, skills and capabilities as the most challenging aspect of transformational creativity to deliver on.

Commerce is being recognized in all its forms at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, with the evolution of the Creative Ecommerce Lions into the Creative Commerce Lions—the award champions trailblazers from brands and retailers who are pioneering “new” forms of creativity across commerce channels.

Here is an inspiration point to help recruit talent and grow brand presence: the opportunity for people to flex their creative muscle in the disruptive, exciting space of creative commerce. 

Creativity has evolved with commerce at the center—opening a space of new opportunity for creative talent. The potential creative scale of commerce is unrivalled, ranging from social commerce to sustainable commerce, from digital to physical experiences, from packaging design to livestream shopping. And let’s not forget entertainment commerce, voice commerce and conversation commerce—the creative canvas is wide.

The opportunities of creative commerce

As a CEO obsessed with creative commerce, I am privileged to work with some of the most innovative brands in the world and highly creative people. And I see first-hand a greater hunger to deploy new skills, for more interesting, more complex, even “messier” roles. 

I see a redefinition of creativity and what it means to be creative. A creative colleague recently confided: “The world has changed, creativity has changed—but most of the ad business hasn’t moved on. Agencies are losing relevance.” This is reminiscent of the digital disruption the industry experienced a decade ago.

So, I point to a world of creative commerce for connected brands—the intersection of creativity, culture and technology—with conversion at its heart. Think of great, powerful work like Diesel’s “Enjoy Before Returning” Titanium Lion win in 2021, combining culture, commerce and brand experience coming together across physical and digital.

As an antidote to the single siloed creative world of above-the-line, digital, physical, OOH, etc., creative commerce brings the chance to flex creativity that connects with people at every single point of their lives and propels us to act.

Creative commerce is the seamless joining together of brand experience with consumer experience—leading to conversion. And it’s an alluring opportunity. When clients ask how do we know whether that dollar spent worked, we now know. Our richest creative experiences can be designed with commercial impact and effectiveness as the goal. Not just a lucky by-product of good work.

It’s where clients are putting their money.

Global beauty leader L’Oréal last year recorded its biggest growth since 1988. “A rebound in the U.S., increased marketing budgets and investments in digital and innovation—including the metaverse—helped L’Oréal grow sales 16% to €32.28 billion in 2021 … we intend to bring more innovation to stimulate consumer desire,” said Nicolas Hieronimus, CEO, L’Oréal to analysts.

Compounding this, the CMO of one of the world’s most celebrated creative automotive companies has said to me: “I don’t need an agency that takes six months to get great creative work. I want thinking with commercial reality from the get-go.” And that’s from a brand with creativity hard-wired into its DNA.

The lines that once separated digital and real-world activity have blurred. And consumers now expect the added benefit of experience. This will only continue to accelerate as technology opens new ways to connect and engage.

With the metaverse knocking on the door, creativity is about to take another exciting step forward, opening new spaces to experience and purchase brands. Even Mickey Mouse is poised to venture in as pioneering power brand Disney announced metaverse plans.

“Our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling, without boundaries in our own Disney Metaverse,” CEO Bob Chapek said during Disney’s Q4 earnings call.

Commerce at the front of industry evolution

Clients are changing, and so must we.

Unilever’s top marketer Conny Braams has dropped the title of CMO for chief digital and commercial officer. She remarked that this reflects ambition to build brands via commerce channels.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, this year’s Cannes Lions Creative Marketer of the Year, has announced a new commercial leadership structure, with marketing, sales, b-to-b and DTC aligned under the newly created chief growth officer role “to accelerate the next phase of innovation and growth.” 

Brand owners are looking for transformational creativity to unlock profitable new business opportunities alongside growing core business. And our industry is rallying to the call.

As jury president of this year’s Creative Commerce Lions, I’m looking forward to seeing the extraordinary skills and innovation of creative talent from all corners of the world.

And my call is this: The commerce world is a whole new creative canvas. Come and join us.

Beth Ann Kaminkow is Global CEO at VMLY&R COMMERCE

Originally published in Adweek