BWM Dentsu's Asheen Naidu recaps Glug Sydney - an event focused on creative tech for good

NaiduAsheen.jpgAsheen Naidu (left), executive creative director at BWM Dentsu was a presenter at Glug Sydney last month. Here Asheen discusses some key takeaways from the event.

As consumers and audiences increasingly call on those of us in the creative industries to embrace their social consciousness, there is a huge opportunity for innovative and creative technology to solve business problems while also doing some social good.

Last month, I had the pleasure of speaking at Glug Sydney, the latest in a series of global events where designers and creatives can present ideas, share their work and talk shop. An unofficial theme emerged over the course of the evening; how can brands leverage powerful insights, innovative tech and creative thinking to do good?
There were some interesting parallels that arose from Glug Sydney around the intersection between creativity, technology, brands and social impact. Here are a few key takeaways from the evening:

Avoid tech for tech's sake

There are endless methods of leveraging technology in the creative industries, and new innovations are coming through the pipeline thick and fast. As I mentioned at Glug Sydney, the exciting challenge here is finding ways to address a company's core social concerns and business problems without shoehorning the latest technology development into a creative response.

ProjectRevoice.jpgOne piece of work that I am particularly proud of is our work with the ALS Association on Project Revoice, which recently picked up a number of awards at Cannes, including - incredibly - the 2018 Grand Prix for Good. With this project, we didn't use tech for tech's sake, rather we developed breakthrough technology that served a human need. By finding the right collaborators to bring the idea to life, we were able to recreate an individual's voice in a program powered by voice cloning technology. For people with advanced Motor Neurone Disease (ALS) who, like Pat Quinn, co-founder of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, are unable to communicate without artificial 'computer' voices, this outcome was life-changing.

Trust the power of observation

At the heart of every great creative idea is a single point of truth. Graham Lewis, Design Lead at Fjord, stressed that harnessing the power of observation is crucial to uncovering how we can offer real value and build strong relationships between a brand and audience.

While Graham was referring to his work developing apps for children, the same creative and design principles apply to any piece of work. Graham focused on the testing process in his presentation, which really emphasised how integral this phase is to understand the needs and context of an audience. Connecting with an audience will naturally feel more authentic as we build on these insights, giving creatives the room to play and develop intuitive and imaginative approaches to socially impactful work.

We are all interested in doing work for good

It's easy for companies to hop on the tech and trends bandwagon for the sake of appearing ahead of the game, rather than giving in-depth thought to how these could best serve the brand. Claus Stangl, Creative Strategist at Facebook's Creative Shop, encouraged everyone in the room to 'push for big ideas to be bigger' and mentioned that the projects that excite him the most personally are those with good at the heart.

Authenticity and simplicity are the key ingredients to getting big ideas for socially conscious projects across. According to Claus, the goal is to 'say one thing beautifully' while reflecting the brand mission. Of course, creatives are encouraged to play around with how this single-minded idea is presented across different platforms and channels, as long as the overarching execution is cohesive.

Make doing good, good for business

Claire Sutton, Head of Design at Republic of Everyone, reinforced that, to be successful, a brand's desire to do good must be genuine, while also making business sense for the brand. This could mean thinking outside the box or looking outside your existing stable of clients to find the business that can help to amplify a creative idea and do the most good.

In order to maximise a business' efforts to do good, a creative idea needs to have short-term impact while embedding purpose in the long-term. Claire's presentation showed that scientific research and technology are great for creating stickiness, which can be crafted using innovative technology or applying tried and tested technology solutions to new situations. The stickiness from these projects will not only generate social awareness with audiences, it will hopefully inspire action and lasting change.

Overall, the conversations at Glug Sydney were invigorating and left me with a renewed sense of purpose about the kind of work we are all capable of. With an innovative approach to technology, creative thinking and, above all, a great idea based in truth, we can have a positive social impact and help to transform businesses and, in some truly exceptional cases, people's lives.

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