Key Trends


Where does this lead us next?

The examples we’ve explored clearly demonstrate how tech, data and creativity can work together – but what was going on behind the curtain, and how can other brands learn from it?

Amassing and interpreting open data


You don’t always have to create new data. How can you make use of data that already exists in the world, repurposed for your own brand’s use?

In the cases of Go back to Africa and Burn That Ad we can see how leaders are leaning on data that already exists online to share and retarget a new message.


For the team behind Go back to Africa this was reframing a hateful message with words and images showing the beauty and diversity of all African countries. For Burger King, once the data points were amassed, it was all about using one of its iconic products to effectively replace the McDonald’s message with their own.


Ian Mackenzie, Chief Creative Officer of FCB/SIX in Toronto, the creators behind Go back to Africa, shared some insight into what this looks like in practice:

“Imagine you’re developing an ad campaign for a beautiful country, but you don’t have any pictures of people traveling there. Now multiply that problem by 54 – the number of countries in Africa. That’s the problem we were facing with Go Back to Africa.


"There’s just a lack of images of aspirational Black Africa travel from mainstream sources. But what we discovered is that there actually are great images out there – on social media. They’re just not centered in the story. And they can’t be found by any one simple search.


“So, we built a custom solution that combined several data and technology partners, including Google Vision AI, to help us find and manage social media permissions to first locate and then deploy an alternative narrative. In other words, we didn’t need to make the images, they were already out there – hidden in plain sight among millions of other images posted on social media. We just had to find the needles in the haystacks.”

Technology as a connector between digital and physical


Where are the opportunities to connect your creative across digital and traditional media using AI and AR smartphone technology so that one can bring life to another?

Huawei’s StorySign and BK’s Burn That Ad employ features that smartphone users are already familiar with – using in-built AI recognition technology and augmented reality to bridge traditional media with digital media formats. We also see a great example of this in Nike’s Air Max Graffiti Stores by AKQA São Paulo.


Here’s DAVID São Paulo’s Sylvia Panico, Global Chief Operating Officer, Edgard Gianesi, Creative Director and Toni Ferreira, Head of Technology and Innovation with the full story of the BK ad which pulled the (flaming) rug from under McDonald’s:


“The biggest challenge was to make it simple and almost magical. The experience had to be perfect. That means that every McDonald’s ad should work as a trigger for AR, no matter if printed, digital – or even a Google image search result.


"We ended up with an infinite number of triggers catalogued and uploaded to a cloud-based system that was always updating the available triggers. There was also the challenge of integrating the Burger King payment system with the campaign and making sure that after the interaction, the consumer would have the coupon saved into their app and would be able to redeem their free Whopper (plus we would be able to measure everything).


"There were many levels of complexity running in the background to make sure the experience was perfect. And it was."

"The first idea was running Burn That Ad on Facebook AR, with a single McDonald ad as a trigger. A single trigger wouldn’t cut it, though so we had to come up with alternatives. The best was to build everything inside the app, so we could program our way and increase the results for BK’s app downloads – and also make the e-payment function more popular for consumers.


"But if one trigger was not enough, now that we no longer had an excuse for limiting the number of triggers, how many would be enough? Of course, we thought: 'all the ads, everything they have!’. So, we invited AR experts to help create the experience, programming it in a way that the creative would fit the triggered ad and started uploading from the most obvious images to the most absurd ones related to McDonald’s.


"We did it every day, we went to stores and took pictures of all the store material, drive-thru art, menu boards, you name it. There was a LOT of attention to everything in this campaign.

Being the first for a few is less important than bringing the experience to the masses.


"Advertisers sometimes go for the ’new’ and emerging, and that is OK and usually results in great video cases, but you don’t get the traction and interest of people if you don’t put the experience in their hands.


"You don’t start your brainstorm with 'let’s do some AR stuff', though. Technology is supposed to come to the game as a solution or to create an incredible experience.”

Demonstrating ‘data for good’


What can you do to show consumers that you use their data for good?

Consumers are becoming more and more interested in and wary of just how brands use their personal information. As a result, every brand needs to have a clear narrative on how they use and interpret their customer’s data as Volvo did through The E.V.A. Initiative.


Here’s Karl Risenfors, Art Director, Forsman & Bodenfors – the agency behind the piece of work:


“Creativity played a huge role in giving this campaign real impact. We had to find a way to provide the car industry with this database but also find a way to make this relevant, shocking and very attention-grabbing for everyone."

"That’s why we created this character that you see in the film. We wanted it to look like a woman who unfolds all of this data, all of these crashes and all this knowledge and who then becomes a strong force of change, a figurehead for the piece of work. As we’re not only talking about a terrible problem but also providing a solution, we wanted a sense of artfulness, poetry, hope, life and energy in there, as well.


"How we merged strategy and data with creativity, along with great support from the client taught us a lot. It’s great to see how an idea can have such an impact on society. It shows that in our industry, when we do well, we can really make a difference.”

Technology supporting second-wave storytelling


How can you use voice to give people the opportunity to re-live their favourite brand stories? How can you make this second-wave of storytelling as novel as the first through interactivity?

Westworld: The Maze was a brilliant example of how brands can use voice technology to re-tell stories that have already aired elsewhere in an original way. Through their voice game using Alexa, HBO offered fans a chance to re-live the narratives of the show (and, in turn go on to talk about it) even when the show was off air.


The interactive functionality of voice technology can ensure that this second-wave of storytelling is as engaging as the original. In the Westworld: The Maze example, 360i were able to ensure that the stories kept listeners engaged with 60 unique player-generated paths, and two hours of gameplay.

Menno Kluin, Chief Creative Officer at 360i, the creators of Westworld: The Maze gives more insight into the strategy and development of the work:


Westworld: The Maze brought a new kind of ambition and entertainment to a channel mostly dedicated to functionality. We were able to leverage the series’ full sound library for maximum authenticity, production quality, and interactive storytelling – creating a premium experience that has yet to be replicated in any other Voice skills on the market.


"Being able to push the boundaries forward with voice technology while creating something so unique for a specific fanbase was incredibly exciting and challenging for our team.”