OMD Predicts introduces the third stage of marketing: creative utility

Beyond awareness and engagement, speakers urge 300 marketers to further innovate through content and technology

As consumers are exposed to an estimated 3,500 advertising messages a day on average, they will become even more selective and brands will need to seek solutions beyond awareness and engagement in order to rally them. The emergence and importance of creative utility, a brand doing something useful that improves consumers’ lives beyond their product or service, was a key topic of this year’s edition of OMD Predicts, the agency’s annual conference dedicated to future marketing trends. Attended by close to 300 delegates, the event provided marketing and media professionals with avenues to explore in order to harness the power of innovation, content and technology.

Freed up by the automation of many tasks, media specialists will be able to deliver more value to brands in terms strategic innovation. Guy Hearn, the chief innovation officer for Omnicom Media Group APAC, urged marketers to not pursue innovation just for the sake of it. “The old rules still apply: strategy first, platforms second and innovation third,” he cautioned. He also introduced the topic of creative utility, arguing that being average will no longer be enough. “Too often in this industry we think of advertising solutions first to reach people and create engagement – they are not the only way forward. As the consumer mind space becomes much more fragmented and the number of platforms infinitely stretched, advertising will look less and less like advertising. Consumers will respond to that which makes their lives better.”

Creative utility also featured prominently in Shawn Amos’ presentation. The CEO of Los Angeles-based content specialist agency Freshwire encouraged marketers to be brave and not make their brand the hero of their stories, using powerful examples to make his point. “To tell a story instead of pushing out an announcement requires a deal of vulnerability – a deal of remembering who you are inside,” said Amos. “We are now looking to provide utility – things that make us connect to one another. It’s not a volume game, it’s a value game. We have to be in people’s lives in a way that is meaningful.” Stories also need to be tailored to the platforms on which they appear.

Technology will also contribute to enhance brands’ ability to be useful, notably through smart customization. Thimon de Jong, the founder of strategy think tank Whetston Strategic Foresight, predicted a shift in consumers’ trust from the ‘big and organized’ to the ‘personal’ in the future. While he identified the rise of the ‘un-connected’, people seeking to switch off from devices, particularly among young adults, he urged businesses to find the right individual or group within their organization to tell their utility story. “People will start to expect the smart customization of products and services through the use of behavioral data that they happily share, especially the millennials” said de Jong. “In order to extract the value of data, brands will need to introduce data scientists within their organizations.”

“OMD Predicts is designed to propel our clients’ businesses forward by pragmatically exploring themes and topics of the future,” commented Nadim Samara, managing director of OMD UAE & Lower Gulf. “With this edition, we focused on the power of innovation, engagement and technology, and explored key ideas, tools and techniques that our clients and business partners can implement immediately in a pragmatic way. Our presenters have allowed us all to look at the future with renewed enthusiasm and a clearer focus on how to capitalize on these three key trends. I for one can’t wait to take these learnings on board and further enhance OMD’s product and service for all our stakeholders.”

Staged at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray’s Music Hall, OMD Predicts 2014 was produced in association with Choueiri Group, the leading media representation group in the Middle East, and Mediaquest, one of the most prominent media companies in the region.

Join the conversation