Data is junk unless it’s analysed in a very professional manner. Instead of big data, the industry needs a ‘holy alliance’ between information and intuition, a magic formula marrying data and creativity.
That is exactly what we have created. Compared to big data, ‘thick data’ is qualitative, softer and deeper. It permeates every aspect of audience behaviour to help us come up with better ideas, which lead to stronger relationships and success for our clients.
We all know the world is fragmented and populated by many different audience segments that are increasingly hard to reach. So we use thick data to understand real people’s emotions and actions and build a dialogue between a brand and its customers.
The data shows us what engages people and how best to reach them. This marriage of insight and creativity combined with technology and collaboration helps us devise far more compelling work.
Data + Creative + Technology + Collaboration
This approach gave birth to the "Sheboard" campaign for charity Plan International Finland. Research found that children internalise gender stereotypes from the age of six and that we speak to children differently depending on their gender – perpetuating stereotypes without realising it. The way we talk to girls affects their self-esteem.
This insight sparked the development of Sheboard, a mobile phone keyboard app that helps people reflect on how we talk to and about girls. Using predictive text, it suggests alternatives from a dictionary of more than 2,500 words to encourage people to use more diverse language when talking about girls.
There’s much more to advertising than one-way communication. We have to see our work as building a bridge between people and brands. Sheboard is a great example: improving girls’ self esteem while raising awareness and donations. I don’t want to call it advertising. I don’t know what it is, but I love it. We don’t need to define everything, but to continuously explore and embrace the new to find more effective solutions.
The campaign had run for only one month at the time of writing, but total earned-media reach was 612 million, while total social reach was 7.1 million.
Our belief that data is the starting point for our ideas has also influenced the structure of the agency. We founded consumer insight agency Frankly Partners to ensure that our understanding of consumer behaviour is high and the insights we derive are relevant.
We’ve introduced agile training to help all staff learn a new way of working that is collaborative, leaner and more iterative. This affects our entire process, from how we kick things off to how we debrief – and strongly influences the type of work we suggest to our clients. It means that we work more closely with our clients – in fact, we are closer to them than ever.
I worship creativity, but since I’ve adopted this formula and experienced how powerful the alliance of data and creativity can be, it’s now the only way I’d work. I expect all agencies to be disciples soon.
Eka Ruola – Q&A
Will you go to Cannes this year?
Yes, I’m looking forward to it.
AI: the best and the worst scenarios are…
The best is that we can use AI to strengthen the delivery of the idea. The worst is that some people might think AI will do the job.
What will you change in 2018?
Again, the idea that technology will make it somewhat easier for us.
The best work of the past year is...
Coca-Cola’s campaign in Ecuador: the soft-drinks brand tore down its own billboards to build houses for people that needed them after the earthquake. It was a ‘carpe diem’ attitude from a brand with a true purpose.
Hasan & Partners Group: at a glance
Principals: Eka Ruola, CEO and ECD, hasan & partners Group; Ami Hasan, chairman, hasan & partners and Perfect Fools; Panu Nordlund, managing director, hasan & partners; Päivi Holmqvist, managing director, hasan communications; Ann Ystén, CEO, Perfect Fools; Anna-Riikka Hovi, managing director, Frankly Partners; Niko Waaralinna, CEO, Raw & Land; Jordan Warren, CEO, TBD.
Locations: Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm Sweden; San Francisco, US.