News & Views

The biggest creative challenges right now (and how to solve them)

by Nick Parish

Creativity, while more crucial than ever, also seems more under fire: growing complexity, an increasingly uncertain agency landscape, new and unfamiliar platforms and consumer behaviour, and the need to deliver in the moment. 

This radical redefinition of the communications ecosystem demands a new approach.

The critical challenge for marketers now is understanding how to rebuild and reboot their approach to accommodate, nurture and spark synergy between traditional narrative creatives and the new cohort of tech-literate makers.

This year, Contagious' Now Next Why events will concentrate on how companies that care about creativity can overcome these obstacles, and bring more value to their relationships with partners and, most importantly, their customers.

Taking place in London, New York and Los Angeles, the events will tackle the topics outlined below. Over the next few weeks we’ll be unveiling the full agenda and our lineup of external presenters. Don't miss out: earlybird tickets are available until February 29.

Now Next Why 2016 / Themes

The Big Picture /

At the beginning of 2016, Contagious asked a cross-section of company leaders in a range of categories to identify the biggest challenges facing business this year. From the perils of short-termism highlighted by Sir Martin Sorrell to the challenges of complexity, capabilities and collaboration called out by Mondelez CMO Dana Anderson, if it’s on their radar, it should be on yours too.

Contagious will distill the preoccupations of these business luminaries into a checklist for companies that are determined not just to survive, but to thrive in the next 12 months and beyond.

Marketing Metropolis /
Disruption and creativity should go hand-in-hand, right? But the ongoing metamorphosis of marketing has left many feeling equally cursed and blessed: on the one hand dazzled by the opportunities, and on the other paralysed, or left tinkering at the edges rather than embracing change head-on. But with 75% of CMOs expecting to assume responsibility for the entire customer journey by 2020 - a remit only 35% have today - it’s time to stare down the lengthening roster of egos and expertise staking a claim on marketing turf and figure out your best play.

In this section, Contagious will map the changing landscape to highlight areas of opportunity for agencies and brands. We’ll also look to the companies that have consciously uncoupled themselves from a traditional approach to communications, rethinking and remodelling their offering to optimise for a new reality that values systems thinking deftly informed by storytelling.

Contagious Pioneers /
At Contagious when we talk about the 1%, we’re not talking cash, we’re talking creativity. This year we launched Contagious Pioneers, our ranking of the agencies from around the world that consistently set the standard for innovation and excellence in marketing. From pet food to automotive to retail, our analysis has shown that exceptional work can come from any category and any country.

So what is it that makes our Pioneer agencies special? What do these creative over-achievers do differently? What does it really take to be a trailblazer? And how are you going to get into the Contagious Pioneers ranking next year? Contagious and a special guest from one of our Pioneer agencies will explain exactly how these companies have organised themselves to routinely deliver exceptional work.

Responsive Retail /
With smartphones now firmly in the hands of the majority of consumers, the potential to make a purchase is never more than a few tantalising clicks away. In theory. In practise, the real-life process of online shopping is only now beginning to catch up with that promise. The one-size fits all approach of mass retail is being re-engineered to make the internet’s inventory more specifically relevant to Me.

As ‘retail everywhere’ becomes a reality, we’ll show how the smartest brands are catering to individual customers with next generation services that use technology and AI to deliver more intuitive, human experiences at scale. This is retail reorganised around You.

Platform Focus / Snapchat
First we rolled our eyes at sexting teens. Then we complained about the baffling UX. But with 7 billion daily video views, and a valuation of around $16bn, marketers are coming to terms with the fact that Snapchat has established itself as a dominant force in media, with its own nuances, conventions and creative potential. With that in mind, we’ll delve into the insights and strategies behind some of the smartest and Snappiest campaigns to fast-track your understanding of what the platform can and cannot offer brands.

From Dumb Luck to Creative Leadership /
When it comes to marketing that actually sells stuff, creativity kicks the living crap out of non-creative work. So why is it so hard to shepherd those exceptional executions from inception to sign-off without fatally compromising them along the way? And, more importantly, what can we do to protect, promote and consistently produce truly creative work?

We’ll share the practical principles we believe are central to overcoming the key barriers to creativity that are deeply embedded in even the most well-intentioned companies and individuals, and how Contagious has already helped brands like Heineken achieve new 'creative heights'. Knowing there’s a problem is a good start, but in this session we’ll help you go further: just don’t expect it to feel entirely comfortable.

About the Event / Now Next Why is the essential, practical guide to overcoming the biggest challenges facing creatively ambitious businesses. Learn more and book your ticket at

Now Next Why