Your roadmap to creative business transformation
Technique One: Find (hidden) creatives
As we learned in Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller took inspiration from unlikely sources (the ER doctors) for this industry-defying film. Similarly, our interviews routinely acknowledged that the original idea for the transformation came from someone outside of the creative field. In fact, seven of our eight brand-agency team interviews said the original idea came from outside of their departments. Perhaps this makes sense. A business transformation is not a television commercial, print ad, or any other traditionally defined realm of the brand or agency creative. While creatives are still instrumental to this process, a transformational thought can come from frontline employees, customers, or partners. Without knowing where the next inspiration will come from, forward-looking brands should encourage and consider all potential sources for the next big idea.
Consider this approach:
Build the platform for ideas.
It is important for organisations to keep lines of communication open at all times; it allows new sources of creativity to come forward at any time. Since launch, Carrefour has continuously changed and improved its “Act for Food” work - the Creative Business Transformation Lions Grand Prix winner. Carrefour does this by incentivising all employees to come up with new ideas (i.e., “Acts”). It has created a platform, “Act for Change”, to gather employee ideas. This has generated a range of new initiatives, from new product developments to innovation on production lines.
ACT FOR FOOD | CARREFOUR MARCEL | PARIS
2020 | WINNER OF TWO LIONS INCLUDING THE GRAND PRIX IN CREATIVE BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION
Diversify the team makeup.
More diverse skills and backgrounds on a team can bring a wider array of ideas to the table. ABInBev’s “Tienda Cerca” transformation work came about because the company needed to find a way to help small shop owners (responsible for approximately 70% of sales in Colombia) survive during the thick of the pandemic. To develop the project ABInBev reorganised itself into “Phoenix Teams” to uncover the best ideas across the organisation. The new teams brought marketing, legal, IT, and sales professionals together to get a 360-degree view of the organisation’s capabilities. A sales representative from this group subsequently came up with the idea for the Tienda Cerca marketplace. It was based on his experience of using WhatsApp to fulfill orders for his customers.
TRUE NAME | MASTERCARD
KETCHUM | NEW YORK 2021 | WINNER OF TWO LIONS INCLUDING A GOLD IN PR
Make data an ideas catalyst.
While an idea is an entry point, data-driven insights can paint an even more holistic picture to kickstart a transformation. Mastercard’s original idea for its bronze Lion-winning piece “True Name” manifested from the negative experience of a transgender employee. This employee still had his “dead name” on his credit card, which presented female. Upon ordering a sandwich in a deli, his name was announced according to his card and he had a panic attack. Once Mastercard heard of the experience, it learned from further investigation how essential it was to transform this experience for transgender customers:
“We found that about one-third of people whose identity does not necessarily match their presentation reported being discriminated against or being denied service. And so, when we learned of this, we (realised) we can't just ‘say’ anymore, we can't just advertise anymore, we have to actually do something. We have to lean in and figure this out.”
— Cheryl Guerin, EVP, Global Brand Strategy & Innovation, Mastercard
Technique Two: Curate creative excellence, patiently
Even a promising idea like Mad Max: Fury Road needed guidance and cultivation to reach its full potential. Business transformation is no different and, thankfully, creatives have a wealth of experience surfacing, shaping, selling, and scaling ideas. Now there is an opportunity for creative professionals to redeploy this skillset and act as guides for the rest of the organisation. As five of our eight brand-agency team interviews demonstrated, when creatives reorientate their roles from problem execution to idea cultivation, enterprise-wide innovations can rise to the forefront.
Consider this approach:
Don’t jump to execution.
As part of its “2030 Calculator” transformation, shortlisted brand, Doconomy, faced numerous setbacks in its attempt to create a method for small and mid-sized companies to measure the carbon footprint of their products. As it overcame each challenge, Doconomy discovered solutions that would become essential to the final product. For Doconomy co-founder, Johan Pihl, it was a great reminder that with innovation projects, you need more time to understand the problem rather than jump straight to execution: “Coming from a traditional creative perspective, I can highlight one difference when working on innovation projects; you're not obsessive around any specific execution of the idea. If you look at typical creatives, they usually tend to fall in love with a very specific execution of the idea early on. In contrast, an innovation approach is all about spending a great amount of time on the problem, and not the execution. It's the deep understanding of the problem that generates valuable insights, and eventually, real solutions.”
THE 2030 CALCULATOR | DOCONOMY
2021 | DOCONOMY | STOCKHOLM WINNER OF THE GRAND PRIX IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
Establish a shared language.
For AB InBev’s “Tienda Cerca” transformation, a common challenge was speaking the same language as “non-creatives.” As Head of Creativity Daniel Rincón explains, "For me, the challenge we had as a creative team was connecting different areas. We had to start using the same creative language in order to come up with the best approaches." Rincón acknowledges it took a fair amount of patience working with “non-creatives” as they are quick to run through ideas (and sometimes be a little blunt with feedback). However, by agreeing on language and goals, they were able to turn an idea into an entire marketplace.
TIENDA CERCA | ABINBEV DRAFTLINE | BOGOTA
2020 | WINNER OF TWO LIONS INCLUDING GRAND PRIX IN CREATIVE ECOMMERCE
Technique Three: Widen the accountability lens
Mad Max: Fury Road took a holistic approach to assess nearly every aspect of the film’s development. Likewise, six of our eight Lion-winner interviews approached their transformation in a similar fashion. The most creative and impactful brands in the Creative Business Transformation Lions understand the scale of a business transformation is only as extensive as its corresponding measurement. This provides a more comprehensive view into progress and success, a necessity to build internal stakeholder confidence and obtain resources. It also can encourage shared accountability—which is imperative to the success of far-reaching, large-scale transformations. Brands should assess how they can measure their own progress and hold themselves accountable to their colleagues and customers.
Consider this approach:
Make it about more than you.
Creative Business Transformation bronze Lion winner, Kingo, provides solar energy to customers who do not have the means to afford or access more traditional forms of energy. As this was an entirely new way to sell and use solar energy, Kingo knew it needed to do more than measure its own bottom line. It needed to measure the profitability of its business-to-business and business-to-government partners. After all, it’s difficult to succeed if your partners aren’t succeeding as well. Similarly, through its “Act for Food” transformation, Carrefour spearheaded campaigns to change agriculture laws in multiple countries. For Carrefour, success started with how many laws or “acts” they could influence. It also measured its impact on farmers (financing 60,000 of them), the buying behaviour of its customers (eg, increasing fruit and vegetable consumption), and Carrefour’s bottom line.
KINGO OGILVY | BOGOTA
2018 | WINNER OF A BRONZE LION IN CREATIVE BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION
RAISING PROFILES | THE BIG ISSUE & LINKEDIN
2021 | WINNER OF SIX LIONS INCLUDING THE GRAND PRIX IN CREATIVE ECOMMERCE
Don’t “set it and forget it.”
Measurement is not a static activity. As a transformation evolves, it is important for measurement to evolve along with it. The Big Issue is a magazine sold by homeless and vulnerably housed people across the UK. For The Big Issue’s “Raising Profiles” shortlisted transformation, evolving measurement required a change in perspective. Instead of simply measuring more bottom funnel activities like magazines sold, the business began to take a more comprehensive view:
“The way that (we) thought about success three and a half years ago was very much linked to magazine sales, and the number of people we were helping to earn a living. We realised, there is a far greater range of measurable outcomes. Now, we're looking at the different ways in which vendors earn. We're looking at how we support vendors. We as an organisation have really diversified the range of opportunities that we're creating.”
— Lara McCullagh, Executive Director, The Big Issue Group
A final thought: Take the (creative) road less travelled
The creativity gap is here, it’s an indicator that businesses have focused on growth without equal focus on the creativity needed to deliver such growth. Businesses who choose to fill this gap have an opportunity to distinguish their brands, to generate massive growth, and to transform.
It is not common to creatively transform, nor is it easy. The Lion winners show us that creative business transformation requires unconventional thinking, and an appetite for risk. As George Miller also experienced in his work to create Mad Max: Fury Road applying creativity requires patience and an open mind. Both Miller and the Lion-winning partnerships were willing to consider all potential sources of creative ideas, even those beyond the realm of the creative department.
What got us here won’t get us much farther, nor will the easy way get us farther. What can take us farther is business transformation powered by modern creativity. Whether you are a filmmaker or in business, if you use unlikely sources of creativity, patiently curate excellence, and measure everything, you can elevate innovation, emotion, and imagination into creative business transformation.