Goafest 2012: Rishad Tobaccowala redefines creativity

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Goa | In Advertising | April 23, 2012
VivaKi's Rishad Tobaccowala delivered a talk on what creativity really is, on Day Three of Goafest 2012.

On the last day of Goafest 2012, Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategy and innovation officer, VivaKi, made a presentation titled 'The Future of Creativity'.

Tobaccowala began right at the basics; he started by defining creativity and shared three definitions that, according to him, best describe creativity. According to veteran chef Ferran Adria, 'Creativity is not copying'. Another definition states: 'Creativity is copying in new ways' and yet another one states: 'Creativity is connecting the dots'.

Rishad Tobaccowala

Then he shared his own personal definition of creativity, something he claims he coined by combining these three definitions. Tobaccowala's definition reads: 'Creativity is connecting the dots in new ways that resonate.'

He then went on to dissect his definition and explain its parts. He began with the word 'resonate'. "Creativity is connecting the dots in new ways that resonate with people, culture and brands," he elaborated.

Next, he moved on to explain the word 'dots'. According to Tobaccowala, the different figurative dots that need to be connected include elements such as sound, picture, words and video. "In addition to these," he explained, "there are more dots -- the 'participation dot', the 'mobile dot' and the 'connection dot'."

The participation dot refers to the act of people interacting with ads (for instance, commenting on an ad or sharing a view on it), the dot that represents mobility has everything to do with people consuming media on the move, and the connection dot -- as the word suggests -- refers to the fact that today every piece of storytelling can be connected to other pieces of storytelling (via platforms such as YouTube).

Later, Tobaccowala went on to share a small list of examples of brands that live up to this definition. The first example he cited was that of Axe, known as Lynx in the UK. This band figured in Tobaccowala's list owing to its 'Lynx Stream App' that enables people to record photos, videos and moments of their evening celebrations and share them the following morning. Apparently, the app is a big hit amongst party-goers in the UK.

Mercedes-Benz was his second example. The brand built a campaign that leveraged Twitter more than anything else. Called the 'Mercedes-Benz Tweet Race', the initiative involved an actual car race that required live tweets in order to be executed -- the race car drivers could move forward only when a certain number of people tweeted in their favour. Both literally as well as figuratively, the race was fuelled by Twitter.

The third example was that of a thermometer brand manufactured by Vicks that allowed mothers to check their babies' temperature by touching the product to their ears instead of inserting it in their mouths in the conventional way. Tobaccowala shared that there is a 100 per cent correlation between people from a particular geographical area keying in flu-related searches on Google and flu actually breaking out in that region in the next few days! The brand team on the thermometer leveraged this intriguing fact and, after extracting search-related data from Google, ran their awareness campaign in only those regions where flu was likely to break!

The next example was that of Norwegian rock band 'Kaizers Orchestra' that addressed the issue of how, often, sound tracks/songs tend to leak out before the official albums are released by musicians. The insight here is that youngsters today do not like to pay for music. The band solved this problem by releasing its raw music score to the general public before their latest single was officially released. People were then asked to come up with their version of the song and send it back. The best versions were included in the final official album.

Tobaccowala concluded on a forward-looking note. "The 'Retail Dot' is the next big dot in my definition. Physical stores and retail locations are powerful spaces that creative professionals must tap into," he suggested.

Click here to see videos and pictures of Goafest 2012.

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