The marketing and advertising landscape is increasingly challenging and complex for brands to navigate; tougher-to-crack audiences, astronomical developments in tech, and increased scrutiny around authenticity, social and environmental impact all require brands to more genuinely connect with people on their terms.
What remains unchanged, however, is the role of creativity as a fundamental ingredient for any successful campaign, and this rings especially true for brand experiences.
For the 17 years (and counting) that we’ve worked on behalf of some of the world's leading brands, we continue to take this idea a step further, baking our creatively-led approach into every stage of the Set Creative process, from conception to delivery. It's what sets us, our work, and the way we do it, apart from the crowd.
A groundbreaking creative idea is one thing. A groundbreaking idea that delivers against a client’s business objective and actually works within the limitations of the physical world, fits within a budget, and is technically possible from a production perspective, is a different ballgame entirely.
At Set Creative, our creative teams lead throughout the entire process of any given project. It’s not just the ‘big idea’ we have at the start. Because our creative teams have always had a seat at the table, they understand the technical and logistical limitations for a given job. It’s a feedback loop that ultimately influences the efficacy of future projects and their effectiveness in the real world.
We’re always up front about whether or not an idea is realistic, and the best experience for a specific campaign. We see this as the opposite of limiting. In fact, numerous studies show that working within specific restraints or ‘creative gravity’ as we’ve previously put it, can actually increase creativity and innovation.
For me, and for our US based team, being creatively-led means approaching every challenge with an eagerness to question convention in an effort to find the most impactful solution that best delivers on real business needs. Ultimately, our role as experiential marketers is to help brands reach their target audience in a way that not only resonates with those folks, but builds real connections. By leading with creative, we push past brand affinity and into brand evangelism.
Every industry faces unexpected hurdles that force teams to pivot quickly, and experiential is no exception. New priorities or targets, budget cuts, and supply chain issues are just a handful of the hurdles our teams regularly face. Keeping Creative Leads at the center of each of those conversations ensures that, despite inevitable pivots and adjustments, the original creative vision remains intact.
One of the many great examples of this in practice was an experience we ran for Coke last year, where oversized musical instruments disguised as playground equipment saw Gen-Z festival-goers generate unique musical tracks through the simple act of play. Keeping creative in the conversation throughout the whole process allowed us to deliver a unique and differentiating experience that connected with the audience on a deeper level than other sponsors.
Ultimately, the role of Creative Leads is to regularly remind the team of the creative north star and to ensure that the vision is not compromised along the way. Failing to do so, frankly, can lead to death by a thousand paper cuts. If the creative team were to step back once "the big idea" is sold in, all decisions moving forward would be made exclusively through the lens of production. That is not to take away from the essential role that our producers play – without them, nothing ever becomes real – it's simply to say that collaboration between creative and production throughout the pre-production process is vital to delivering the vision that what was initially promised, meaning memorable experiences for people, and work that makes us and our clients proud.
Natasha Sokulski is the Executive Creative Director at Set Creative US, based in New York.
This article was published on 27th June, 2023.