EMEA's Chief Creative Officer Till Hohmann and Turkey's Creative Director/Innovation Lead Emre Süvari speak to Campaign Turkey.
The world entered 2020 with big hopes but then faced with pandemic. This virus which affected everything in our lives doesn’t seem like it’s going to leave us soon. We wanted to talk about data, creativity and all these changes in consumer behavior and the retail sector with WPP’s first and only Creative Commerce Agency Geometry.
Chief Creative Officer Geometry EMEA Till Hohmann and Creative Director/Innovation Lead Istanbul Emre Süvari answered our questions especially on the Geometry Creative Week.
Do you think that the industry has passed the pandemic process through in terms of creativity? How do you evaluate this period in terms of creativity?
Emre Süvari (ES): I believe we are witnessing a small part of the change. We don’t know how long these pandemic conditions will last, but independently we are witnessing a systemic change. But it was surprsing how marketing teams have rapidly adapted themselves to this change. It was like we had been practicing for it for months. We moved to the work-at-home system immediately and were able to adapt very quickly, and brands moved to their channels to online with lots of new movements. And most of the results were very satisfying.
I believe almost all of us said, so this can also work like this. And yes it works… but for now… Tech and IT helped us to reorganize ourselves very quickly but it also shows how ready we are to reshape ourselves. Geometry launched its new working platform Living Commerce in just the right time, which enabled Geometry and its clients to work from far way and unsynchronous. Today all the processes – from briefing to presentation – run over this platform and not only the key team, but all 3rd parties, other offices, and even clients can join and participate in the process with minimum effort to coordinate. We used the Living Commerce Platform during our last 2 projects and we benefitted a lot from its advantages. It is so exciting to have the privilage to use such pioneering platform, which I believe will be a standard for the industry in coming years.
Can you please talk about Geometry Creative Week. What was the aim of that week and what was the outcome/benefit of the week?
Till Hohmann (TH): With Geometry now clearly positioned as “THE Creative Commerce Agency” Network in the world, it was key to recognize the importance of that very first word: Creative.
We have done that. By forming a global creative council and a rather substantial internal training program across all our many areas of expertise.
And yet early 2020, as the COVID crisis was starting to take hold, we felt we should do more. At that time we could only assume that the Cannes Festival would also run some form of online based experience. So we figured: in that same week let us as a network spend time in discussing the many different forms of commerce related creativity, of impacting factors that shape the new forms of creativity, of the power of ideas, the importance of building client relationships that boost creativity – a wealth of topics.
Originally it was seen as mainly internal for our 3800+ employees globally. We set forth to create content, connected to a great number of internal and external experts, shaped the program – and noticed: this might well be relevant beyond our company. That’s when we opened it to the world with YouTube live streams, etc.
We created streams around the five key areas of creative commerce we have amazing abilities in – design for commerce, retail focused creativity, brand experiences, creative ecommerce and digital innovation for commerce.
Looking back, we can only say: it was a huge success. As you would know, we are a very data-savvy and analytics driven company. So of course we deeply analyzed all reactions and the “performance” of the week. We exceed all expectations regarding view times, audience reach, increase in social platform relevance and participation. And also the qualitative measures based on discussions and questions proved that this was time well invested.
So, we are most probably going to continue this format.
Can you tell us about Geometry's creativity approach, during the crisis period while positioning itself as an End to End Creative Commerce Agency?
TH: Further to what I mentioned above: creativity is needed more than ever. In new, more intelligent and connected forms.
At Geometry our unique point of view is, that now is the era for high-quality, intelligent, connected creative commerce solutions. Solutions that see marketing and sales merge. Solutions that are beyond channels and types of media. Solutions empowered by data, infused with deep insight (business, cultural, human), focused on identifying the moments that matter in purchase decision processes, driven by enriching lives through relevance, executed in whatever format, channel or medium is most suited. This is a very people centric approach. Because if a brand gets that right, it will always see conversion go up and achieve positive growth.
So that is what we do. What we are great at. It is a channel-agnostic, media-neutral approach. We do not simply optimize the existing channels and platforms. We do not just focus on a few types of mediums. We focus on understanding business models, routes to market, audience behaviors and needs to then identify the moments that matter. And, given our vast capabilities across design, retail, experiential and innovation, we are able to conceptualize and create the right solutions to activate those moments. Any medium. Any type of solution.
This approach is not totally new for us. It is built on a legacy of knowing shoppers better than anyone else. On having co-invented non-traditional marketing. On being able to go beyond standard formats.
All we have done and are continuing to do now is adopt even more powerful data-driven technologies to inform this process and add in further consulting and specialist offerings such as social selling, Amazon optimization, etc. Driven by powerful collaboration platforms we have created in the past two years – platforms that allowed decentral collaboration even before the pandemic and are now proving themselves. In that sense the pandemic is actually supporting our approach.
As for the impact on business. As said before, many models are being questioned and old mechanics are under stringent review. Let’s take the old silos of marketing versus sales. I’m pretty sure that most client organizations are currently realizing this divide has been a mistake and a costly one – and one that will not help in a time where budgets are tighter, consumer behaviors and market realities are changing. Being able to create connected solutions that build brands while making the sale is more cost effective. And that is what Geometry is great at.
Of course, we can help with the perfect retail design. Or with great instore activation. Or with ecommerce solutions. Or with events and brand experiences. We can create product innovations, packaging solutions, special editions etc, etc. The list is long. We are happy to do any of that. And yet it is a bit like taking a Formula 1 car for a shopping run. Because our true magic lies in the ability to identify just what is the best solution to drive conversion. And to provide a fully connected answer from business model to execution across all types of media – if and when and however needed. This is where more siloed competitors, who may be good at one of these things, falls desperately short. And that’s what we have been building and are enhancing even further as the premier creative commerce agency network of the world.
Beth Ann Kaminkow also emphasizes the importance of creativity very often. So how should we include data in this process?
TH: Data is a tricky topic. Because the very word is so often used too broadly and superficially. Data in itself is nothing as my EMEA Strategic Planning Partner, Cesar Montes, likes to point out.
Only when able to connect multiple data points, interpreting them, elevating them and adding in additional factors, do we reach the level of insight or even wisdom that defines a new opportunity and gives direction to creative solutions that are relevant.
So: yes, data is key, having lots of it. As we do. But what is more important is the ability to compute, interpret and connect. Which is our actual investment and everything we have focused on in the last few years. It takes superior technology. It takes investment into proprietary analytics tools. It takes great minds.
All of this investment is there to inform our ability to best understand people and their behaviors. People are the new point of sale we like to sometimes say. So, if that is true, it is critical to understand them against any category, product, situation. To then be able to identify the moments that matter – moments that can connect brand and people, that can drive conversion, that can be activated.
This is the trigger we identify as the foundation for our creative solutions. That’s how we bring data into the process – it is never an answer in itself, it gives direction superior creative commerce solutions.
Are there any campaigns that you think as ‘the good examples’ of this period? In what ways did these campaigns stand out?
TH: It’s not campaigns that have stood out to me at all. Actually, campaigns fall short in so many ways. Campaigns are nice additive words and images. Yes, they give a mood, a feel. They may reassure or even take your mind off the current situation. A nice break of sorts. But then having a break, while important, does not make the work, the task go away, does it?
So in that sense it has been actions of brands that have impressed me. Moments where brands have stepped up, instantly shifted even business models or invented new services in the light of the pandemic. That’s impressive and relevant.
When McDonalds decided to have its staff, not needed in the closed down restaurants during the strict lockdown, support retailers as sales staff in supermarkets. That’s great. When clothing manufacturers instantly shifted to making face masks. That’s great. When retailers quickly shifted to adopting our very own Geometry solution, the Handle On Hygiene for their shopping carts – that’s relevant. I believe action does speak louder than words.
ES: I agree with Till. Consumers want to see action during this period. For example Toyota promised to all its employees to pay salaries until the end of 2020 even if they will not sell one single car. This was not only well accepted by the Toyota family, but also among public. The same approach came from Fiat. All Fiat showrooms were closed and during these months they used all salesmembers in the showrooms as online sales to secure their jobs. Vodafone also run a social responsibility project for animals where they emphasized that this pandemic doesn’t only effect humans but animals as well. #thisfoodisfromme campaign was also well accepted from public.
View the article at Campaign Turkey.