The Wrap - Chris Wilcock, Creative Director at Outpost

Stephen Chapman's picture
by Stephen Chapman

Each Friday in The Wrap, one of the North’s leading media and creative figures will be giving us their take on the news covered by Prolific North over the last seven days. This week it’s the turn of Chris Wilcock, Creative Director at Cheshire based agency, Outpost.

It’s encouraging to see recent forecasts that expects Manchester to be the strongest performing city in the UK. This is clear based on investments being made in digital agencies such as E3creative which recently expanded its team and moved into new offices in Manchester. With more agency start-ups, it not only gives brands a greater choice in their creative partners, it also helps reinforce the North West’s creative credentials and proves that you don’t need to be in London to be taken seriously. The North West’s amazing transformation as a creative powerhouse was further recognised with the entrepreneurs and industry leaders receiving honours for their contributions to the industry. 

Being a sci-if geek an article that caught my eye was around the future of video technology and how brands are using this to immerse consumers in their products. Over the last few years we have definitely seen our clients push the boundaries in what is possible online, incorporating immersive style features to convey the brand story, instil advocacy and ultimately influence the customer to make a purchase.

We’re just at the beginning of what is possible with immersive technologies and when combined with engaging storytelling and new manufacturing techniques this will be an incredibly powerful tool for brands to sell their products. We’re already starting to see fashion and retail brands embrace this movement. Take Adidas for example who launched the SpeedFactory in December. This new in-store concept is based on motion capture technology, data-driven design and production. The state-of-the-art manufacturing process allows for a highly-customised design experience and a manufacturing process which can bring a design from idea to finished product in just four hours! And with new technologies like Microsoft’s HoloLens, which looks like something from Star Trek, these technologies will shape how we interact with the world and the possibilities for brands is endless.

I do feel we have to be careful and ensure we get the correct blend of creativity and audience understanding and not be completely reliant on big data. Coming from a technology and strategic background I fully appreciate how data insights can be used to reinforce and help direct a creative process however it shouldn’t take the lead. Not all customers are the same and you can’t quantify emotions, this is where a strong creative idea comes all joined together with a data reinforced strategy. As Ian Callum head of design for Jaguar says ‘You cannot let creativity be overruled by data: it will cripple you. You’ll end up with the same car every time”. It’s reassuring to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that companies are beginning to see beyond the hype of big data and use it in the correct way.

Moving from dry data to emotive storytelling it’s amazing to see how the power of social media can be used to support charities like Heart Research UK and their recent campaign with SEO Works. It just shows that a simple idea executed well can have incredible reach. Last year, the Outpost team attended the Sysomos Summit, and one thing that really stood out was how user generated content generates 6.9x more engagement than branded content on Facebook. Finding the point of resonance with your audience will generate emotion among social audiences, something Heart Research UK and SEO Works have demonstrated with their incredible reach of over 16 million people online.