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Think Quarterly: The Creativity Issue

This edition of Think Quarterly is dedicated to digital creativity in its many forms — from YouTube remixes, to next-generation advertising, to data visualizations — and what it means for your business. Every second brings something new to the internet, and technology has made creating and sharing easier and faster than ever. How has it changed audiences, how has it changed marketing, and how can your business keep up?

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    The Curious Case of Creativity

    Good ideas sell products. Great ideas change lives. From opening up our brand to opening up museums, we see creativity as a way to solve problems—large and small. Lorraine Twohill, Google VP of Global Marketing, explains how.

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    Executive Insight: Ajaz Ahmed

    Ajaz Ahmed was an early believer in the power of the internet. Since 1994 he’s been helping brands reach consumers as the founder of AKQA, the most-awarded digital advertising agency in the world. Ahmed discusses the possibilities in shifting from a singular message-pushing strategy to smart ideas that allow brands to be welcomed into customers’ lives. By adapting their advertising to the inherent properties of digital, brands can create cost-effective, measurable ways to meaningfully connect with consumers.

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    Lean Communications

    Be ready to fail—quickly. That’s part of the new mindset advertisers are borrowing from Silicon Valley in order to be more agile in a consumer-driven culture. Abandoning “launch and leave it” attitudes—where only fully functional and uber-researched campaigns will do—means better adapting to consumers’ feedback. Establish core values at the start of a project, and adopt a fluid process and flat agency structure to create communications that are more flexible, integrated, and efficient, while remaining authentic.

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    The Creativity Club

    Dismissing technology is essential, and destruction is the path to creativity. The incomparable John Hegarty, Worldwide Creative Director of BBH, shares his opinions on technology’s challenges and the future of the advertising office. As technology has democratized creativity, successful ad makers are now the ones who understand execution and make technology bend to their ideas. The next generation will likely revolutionize the workplace, breaking down traditions and creating a freer, more fluid environment.

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    Why Didn’t I Think of That?

    Digital technology creates infinite possibilities for experimentation and creativity. For marketers, this means there’s lots you can do, and lots you wish you did. We asked five members of Google’s Creative Council, a group of creative thinkers from today’s top digital agencies, to tell us about a recent campaign or project that made them envious.

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    Project Re: Brief

    What happens when legendary admen of yesteryear are given cutting-edge digital tools to revisit their greatest moments? If Google’s Re: Brief is anything to go by, you unlock the creative potential of new media advertising. With techies and creatives added to the traditional advertising mix, participants had the resources to revolutionize their ads: GPS technology, Google+, language-processing algorithms, and more.

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    YouTube’s New Era

    YouTube is undergoing the most profound shift in its history – licensing original programming from new creative partners. If that sounds like a bid to become a traditional television network, think again. YouTube’s mission is to revolutionize the medium, transforming all of us into active participants in TV culture.

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    21st Century Copyright

    Since before illegal music downloads were even an option, “copying” has been an essential element of creativity and innovation. From Spotify’s success to the increasing profitability of YouTube content, we can see the possibilities that unlimited inspiration and audience access provide. As laws struggle to catch up in our rapidly moving digital century, we are working to let creativity flourish, protect the rights of creators, and provide viable products for consumers.

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    The Knowledge: Chris Milk

    Artist Chris Milk has made music videos for the likes of U2 and Kanye West. His latest work – projects like the award-winning The Johnny Cash Project and Arcade Fire’s The Wilderness Downtown – show how technology can create emotional resonance. Here, he reveals the people, principles, ideas, and tools that keep his creative fires burning.

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    Data Visions

    Data analysis and visualization have become indispensable tools in science and business, but in the hands of a new generation of digital artists, data is undergoing a metamorphosis—from a unit of information into a fascinating, beautiful, and expressive medium. Aaron Koblin, the head of Google's Data Arts team, explains.

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    Data Stories

    Google’s Cole Nussbaumer offers a primer on creative data visualization, the merger of brains and beauty that has taken the marketing world by storm. Dry data can become compelling and digestible with strategic creativity—the opposite of overused 3D effects and eyeball-singeing color. Nussbaumer advocates a common-sense approach to data visualizations through the thoughtful use of color, size, and placement for emphasis.

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    Strength in Depth

    3D is rapidly evolving beyond movie gimmicks and goofy glasses. Various industries and marketers are using 3D technology to create informative and engaging consumer experiences, with obvious success. 360-degree product views increase conversion rates and can track how users examine a product. The increasing availability of 3D printing will revolutionize the consumer experience, allowing availability of individualized products in ways we haven’t seen since the rise of mass manufacturing.

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    Cognitive Creativity

    Do you work in a creative industry? In the digital age, the answer is ‘yes,’ whatever your profession. All you need to do is understand your potential – then unlock it. With unlimited technologies, more efficiency, fewer obstacles, and broader collaboration, anyone can be creative in the digital age.