Get inspired! How creativity is fuelling business

This year, one of our own got to judge an award category at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. This was an opportunity to soak up creativity on a global stage and learn how the best businesses are making a habit of pointing creativity at thorny problems.

At AfterWork, we love to pontificate about the future; D2C, sex, death, menopause, talent, take your pick. To stretch beyond the confines of today, there’s nothing better than soaking up as much stimulus as possible; preferably from a firehose on a global stage. Enter the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity! For 70 years, this festival has honoured creativity in business; and arguably, there has never been a greater time for this marriage. In a world obsessed with data and AI, creativity in how to harness, embed and evolve these tools will separate good businesses from great businesses; while also enabling goals to be met; be they commercial, social or environmental.

Recently, I got the privilege of judging the Creative Business Transformation award category at the festival. It was a week of rigorous debate, discussion, creative inspiration and exorbitant amounts of rosé. On account of the fees to enter the awards (and pay for said rosé), they are dominated by larger brands and agencies, with few startups or scale-ups represented. In any case, imagination abounds. The work signals the evolution of categories and emergence of new norms that will pave the way for the competition and change consumer expectations.

Here are some of my favourite entries.

Subconscious Ordering: This food delivery app in Saudi Arabia uses biometric commerce in a novel way. After unsuccessfully scrolling for food, consumers are asked if they need help overcoming their menu paralysis. They are then shown a series of cuisines, while the app tracks their eye movements. This data gets then turned into a recommendation on what to eat; based on their subconscious mind (which processes information 500 times faster than the conscious mind).  The value exchange is clear – consumers give up their data and are rewarded with something genuinely useful, and pretty cool.

The Gaming Profile: This innovation from Bank of Colombia found a new way to assess the credit worthiness of Gen Z gamers. Rather than hold them to account for metrics they were unlikely to meet, the bank chose to meet them where they are: in game. The bank tracked 15 hours of play, monitoring 24 behavioural traits that then translated into a credit score. Things like dedication, risk taking, team work, time management and goal setting were able to transcend beyond gaming and into the real world. This creative use of data represents a new way into a previously overlooked demographic.

Nativa Meter: This simple idea involved creating a rain gauge from a used beer bottle to help cassava farmers (the main ingredient in Nativa beer) protect their crops. Farmers place the empty beer bottle in the field, track rainfall, then text precipitation levels to a dedicated number that then logs rainfall by microclimate into a database, and provides farmers with useful insight and actionable steps. Increasingly, brands are realising that their supply chain represents a chance to live their brand values, differentiate from the competition and hit their sustainability goals.

Renault Plug-Inn: to tackle the lack of charging station infrastructure in France, Renault created an app dubbed the ‘Airbnb for charging stations’. Anyone with an EV charger, anywhere in France, could create a listing and get paid for facilitating a charge. This cemented Renault as a leader in the EV movement and boosted brand affinity, while also overcoming the very real consumer problem of “Range Anxiety”. By taking a side step into tech, Renault made road tripping possible for thousands of EV enthusiasts in a way previously unimaginable.

Data Tienda: WeCapital bank in Mexico assessed the credit worthiness of thousands of previously unbankable women across Mexico by tapping into a network of shopkeepers to paint a robust and rare picture of their creditworthiness. Since their teens, many women across Mexico have managed ledgers and microloans from a variety of shopkeepers, like pharmacists, grocery stores and butchers. This rich source of data had been overlooked; until now. Through a simple UX process delivered via What’s App, WeCapital liaised with shopkeepers to ascertain credit worthiness. This creative use of data empowered thousands of women who had been previously excluded by the financial system.

Hacking the Wait: In partnership with food delivery platform Rappi, Club Colombia beer found a way to send a cold beer to people’s homes while they waited for food. This simple idea was based on a simple insight; waiting for food is easier with a beer in hand. Through strategic partnerships, it was relatively easy to execute and created outsized ROI.