This paper addresses the contribution of data to the construction of brand stories. It is analyzed, thus, how storytelling, enhanced by the use of data, can help generating consumer engagement and constructing creative advertising messages. To that end, “Creative Data Lions” category —and, in particular, all the campaigns selected in “Data storytelling” section— of Cannes Lions advertising festival is used. The results allow us to observe that this is an enormously diverse trend, with data fulfilling very diverse roles in relation to storytelling.
“Dear Cannes, it’s time to expect more from technology”. This was the text that said on an IBM fence near the Palais des Festivals in May 2019 (Cannes Lions, 2019b).
The technology company insisted with this piece – integrated in an initiative below the line based on artificial intelligence1 – in one of its core brand values, while sending a very clear message to the entire profession in its festival of reference about the close communion of advertising and technology binomial.
In reality, this binomial has always had a close relationship, given the increasing value that technology has in modern societies in terms of status (Marwick, 2013) and the fascination that every new technology that mediates in a significant way arouses in humans. their experience of reality (Miller and Sinanan, 2014; McLuhan, 1980).
This capacity for fascination has always been highly appreciated by advertising: since it is a (potentially) intrusive message, the minimum is to try to make the recipient find it fun or interesting (McKee and Gerace, 2018; Wagler, 2013; Roberts, 2005). And if the message is not new or attractive per se, then the way of communicating it is, thus using the technology as a hook to attract attention and generate engagement.
In this sense, the profession has attended for the last 25 years a whole process of redefining its structure, seeking to integrate technology and its experts in their part creation processes (Stuhlfaut and Windels, 2019).
The redefinition of the agency’s structure goes hand in hand – and to a large extent responds to – far-reaching changes produced by the data process of the ecosystem of web platforms and digital devices (Van Dijck and Poell, 2016; 2013; Van Dijck, 2014; Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier, 2013; Boyd and Crawford, 2012). This process has allowed substantial advances in the construction of increasingly sophisticated user profiles for the personalization of digital services and web browsing (Cufoglu, 2014), as well as a more appropriate use of the expressive possibilities of interactive media. (Hook, 2018; Solana, 2012; Truong, McColl and Kitchen, 2010) for the development of campaigns and brand actions.
Thus, the use of data would be allowing the profession to advance its relationship with technology in a sense that overcomes the artificial fascination with the new to connect in a more meaningful and relevant way with its stakeholders and even create new services and products. that provide a value that goes beyond communication.
As will be seen in the analysis of the selected works in the “Data storytelling” section carried out in this work, the incorporation of both big data and micro data to brand messages is allowing to develop campaigns where data is used as a creative resource for enrich the storytelling of the brand, but also in campaigns where storytelling is used as a creative resource capable of humanizing and making this data relevant.