Ask Anna: How important is data when producing creative?

Data is a popular buzzword throughout the creative industries. But how can it help the creative journey? This is the question posed to CR’s agony aunt, Anna Higgs, in her latest column

Illustration by Sean McSorley

Dear Anna,

How important is data when producing creative? What are your top sources for consumer insights and trends?


Dear Lucia,

In my former life as a Creative Director, running a global digital channel, data was hugely important to me and to my commissioning team. It was important because we were working directly with audiences and needed to understand where they were at and what they were doing. But we had one clear and central rule when it came to data as applied to creative: that it informs, not leads, the creative process.

This is important because the best creative must lead the way, it’s not following a well-trodden path, and so there aren’t established data points on the route to give you comfort that your work is somehow empirically ‘right’. It’s creative. It’s going to be subjective.