4 ways to build smart creative for a multichannel world

Creative at desk

I’ve spent the past decade working in creative agencies. I’ve witnessed how the growth of platforms like Pinterest have increasingly fragmented the digital media landscape and made our jobs as marketers harder. Getting your creative right has never been more complex. It’s also more important than ever.

Nearly three-quarters of CMOs believe that creativity plays an essential part in helping their brand enhance the customer experience, which now happens in more places than ever before. From TV spots and online video, to in-store interactions, mobile apps, social posts, e-commerce—the list of channels and platforms goes on.

If you’re a creative agency or brand, advertising across so many touch points can feel pretty overwhelming at times. 

But it doesn’t have to be. 

I recently sat down (virtually of course) with four industry leaders who strategize, ideate and execute creative campaigns on a daily basis. I was curious to hear how they approach developing smart creative in an increasingly multichannel world.

Here are 4 tips they shared:

1. Think like a person, not a brand

“When you look at the landscape, every other brand is there, too. So you've got extreme competition. Solving the business problem creatively and competitively is paramount. But so is understanding how the brand moves across this landscape—and how it’s connecting with consumers. 

 The challenge is how we translate these brands across multiple platforms, while taking into consideration the one-on-one relationship brands have with the consumer. For me, this is where it gets exciting.

 To do this, brands need to stop thinking like products or services, but like people. By humanizing our brands we can find those connections to consumers much easier, especially on social platforms. 

 Each unique platform, is an opportunity for a brand to connect with the consumer, a way to demonstrate the brand values, and ethics that allows the consumer to connect in a meaningful way. You can really win when you get your brand to truly integrate with that platform as an active participant, not a by-stander. Ultimately, we need to shift our thinking. Social platforms aren’t just doors. They are rooms. 

 That is the job—to take a best-in-class idea and translate it across a multitude of platforms in meaningful ways.  That's the new creative.”


Yasmin Sahni

Yasmin Sahni, VP Executive Creative Director, GTB


2. Get comfortable with complexity

“I'm not going to lie. It's definitely an increasing challenge that everyone is facing. In the old days, we'd think about two or three channels. Now we’re thinking in many cases about seven or eight bespoke locations in which an idea needs to live, so the cognitive load for a creative team is quite high these days. 

What I think hasn't changed so much is that a good idea and story still wins. But we're thinking differently about how stories are told. I encourage creatives to start with the ‘big idea.’ But then think about how to tell it through progressive disclosure. You can use different channels to tell your story in smaller pieces, which casts a lens on the idea in different ways. So you have to develop the mindset of an architect and think structurally about your story’s plot. You have to be comfortable with complexity.

Simon Clancy

Simon ClancyAVP Creative Director, Canadian Tire Corporation


3. Make your briefs part story, part system

“If we look at a brief as a tactical object, there are two key things we keep in mind to make it more informed. One is the storytelling narrative—the thing that's going to inspire the integrated team to think of a solution that's compelling and interesting. And the other part is the system narrative—how does the solution manifest into the world? 

In an ideal world, a brief should inspire thinking about both what an idea is and how it comes to life in service of the end-user’s ideal experience. A best practice that we’ve been pushing forward is incorporating both storytelling and system narratives directly into a briefing document. That can come to life on a single page or an entire boardroom of inspiration. 

What is important is creating a back-and-forth discussion using systems and story to understand the problem we’re trying to solve. I find that it helps us evaluate new ways of working and gets the group to think critically about every execution—whether that’s a piece of film or an individual Pin.”

Adam Ferraro

Adam FerraroDirector, Ogilvy Social.Lab




4. Get more out of "the spot"

“I think what's helped me is not looking at a shoot to capture ‘the spot,’ but looking at it as a shoot to capture as much footage as we can, and plan accordingly. The trick is managing the right information delivery to the creative team at the briefing stage. You don’t want to overload the creative team with too much detail about deliverables. But you do want to provide that initial awareness so they understand where the campaign will live. One way to disseminate information early in the creative process is to organize deliverables into broader themes. For example, if you know a campaign is going to include social video, and require various mobile specs, then the direction for creatives might be, "How do you make creative concepts that are vertical?"

I always try to head into the production bid or pre-production by understanding the different campaign content needs. Make sure the creative team and the director have worked out ideas and storyboards upfront. Then it’s a planned part of the production schedule and makes for a more comfortable shoot.”

To learn more about creating great creative on Pinterest, check out Creative Strategy at Pinterest.

—Nick Pigott, currently saving to sleeping cabin


Neal Owusu

Neal OwusuDirector of Production, Grey Canada