R/GA Is Even More Creative With Inspirational, Inclusive Design

Creativity is an everyday activity for those who work in advertising. The creative process is “part art, part science” and creatives make use of customer data, qualitative research, best-practice processes and leaps of creative imagination to come up with compelling, emotionally engaging campaigns. But in a world of distracted consumers who multi-task, multi-screen and have fractional attention, how does a creative person come up with something truly groundbreaking with which to engage and convert customers?

R/GA is one of the world’s most successful creative agencies when it comes to applying new technology. In fact, leveraging new technology is a core part of their skill set.

We pair our technologists with design thinkers to ensure that whatever technology we’re working with – from deep and integrated to experimental and innovative – it works equally well for businesses, and for people.

R/GA

When we were asked to run a workshop at R/GA’s Global AI Summit on strategy and opportunity in the age of AI, our challenge was to be more creative than the creatives. Our solution needed to include a fast-track educational aspect so that creatives could imagine what’s possible with AI. We also drew on an important conclusion from creativity theory: constraints boost creativity.

We decided to combine two of our most successful practical approaches: using Microsoft’s Inclusive Design techniques to boost creativity and diversity of ideas with our own Sonder Studio Opportunity Sprint where participants learn about AI capability through inspirational examples from a variety of industries and use cases.

In the workshop, R/GA creatives who had not worked before with advanced AI used our Opportunity Sprint inspirations to explore what’s possible with emotional AI—what we call “Feel”—to design new engagement models for clients. Participants sketched out ways for AI to detect and respond accurately to human emotions and help a brand build a stronger emotional connections. They also explored real-world, state of the art “Move” applications—robotics, autonomous mobility and haptics so they could understand the progress of artificially intelligent agents that act in the physical world.

Then we added a major constraint: a user with a disability. We used Microsoft’s Inclusive Design philosophy based on three key ideas:

  • When designers recognize exclusion, they are more able to reflect how people really are. All humans grow and adapt to the world around them and humans want designs to reflect that.
  • When designers solve for one, they will find new ways to extend to many. Everyone has abilities, and limits to those abilities. Designing for people with permanent disabilities actually results in designs that benefit people universally.
  • When designers learn from diversity they unlock new insights. Human beings are the real experts in adapting to diversity. Inclusive design puts people in the center from the very start.

What problem did the participants want to solve? In the room were R/GA creatives who had used advance targeting and tracking technology to come up with compelling advertising solutions for one of the toughest problems in today’s connected economy; converting a non-paying audience to subscription. In 2017-18, the average NBA fan watched only seven games during the regular season. Live sports ratings had been declining for years, and fans kept up by using social media for bite-sized highlights and final scores. “You Seeing This?” was a real-time media campaign that showed millennial fans what they were missing when they weren’t watching live games. Instead of running conventional TV promos in the days prior to the matchups, ESPN found fans online when the games were already underway, and served them tantalizing live footage and easy ways to switch on the game.

We tasked the group with finding a “next-gen” solution to the NBA’s problem using emotionally aware AI (“Feel”), intelligent robotics and haptics (“Move”) … all for a basketball fan who was deaf.

While we can’t reveal the details of the solution, we can say that it was groundbreaking. Creatives who knew their client’s needs were able to combine the power of leading edge AI with a highly specific user need in a constrained circumstance to unlock a truly novel idea.

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