I’ve spent most of my career at creative agencies. One of the principles we talked about a lot was “the idea is boss,” meaning that the idea should lead everything from strategy to the media choices and even how you work. The “idea” is what makes brands famous and what you want people to remember, so naturally, “get out of the way.” This used to feel like an inarguable truth, and the fact is that many agencies, including the very well-known ones, still believe that it’s the path to marketing success. While it may win you some industry awards and headlines, it’s a fundamentally flawed and outdated approach.
Over the last 10 years, data and technology have completely changed the game. Both things used to ride shotgun to the “idea.” They were the last things you touched on in a creative presentation. They were stuck in the appendix. Now they are the drivers of the conversation, more specifically because of what they enable: a real and deep understanding of the customer and their actual behavior. Growth isn’t guesswork. It doesn’t start with your gut. It starts with a true understanding of the business and your most valuable audiences. Today, the audience is boss. You know them. You get to relevant creative.