Staff Writer
Feb 22, 2024

People power: The creator engine at work

Creative leaders from Tag discuss the array of creators needed to power a content engine — and what tomorrow will hold for creatives and the industry at large.

People power: The creator engine at work

There are myriad challenges facing creative agencies in the current climate. For creatives, helping clients stand out in an ever-saturated marketplace is a very real challenge. Meanwhile, developments in tech and working culture mean roles and teams are being reimagined, often across markets. At the same time, broader industry trends have led to high attrition within brand marketing teams or compression in marketing budgets.

How can agencies juggle all the above while consistently delivering to client expectations? For creative production agency Tag, a newly acquired Dentsu company, the answer is to embrace the content engine model.

Though the term “engine” may conjure an image of an automaton, the content it produces is not the work of some all-powerful machine. Rather, it is powered by a team of people — ranging from internal talent to external partners — each adding their specific talents to a massive, diverse range of outputs.

Teamwork makes the dream work, as they say, but how can a group of individuals with such wide-ranging skill sets and expertise work together both efficiently and effectively? We spoke to creative leaders at Tag to find out.
Skills of today
Modern marketing involves more people than ever before, and the average campaign needs a plethora of talent to offer their expertise long before it makes it to the consumer. Traditionally, that would involve some combination of art directors, copywriters, videographers, video editors, retouchers, and graphic designers.
However, times are changing. 
“In the modern world, lines between previously well-defined roles are blurring,” said William Li, executive creative director, Hong Kong. “The art director may also take on the role of the photographer, video producer, or editor. Sometimes, data analysts and content strategists will combine into one role.” 
Consequently, flexibility is the “key component” of any successful content engine, according to Kosuke Tobinaga, creative operations director, Japan. “Of course, the bottom line is having skilled designers and creators,” he continued. “But it is critical for the content engine to have a broader knowledge of marketing.” 
“To be able to understand the client’s needs and wants and adjust the content engine accordingly is critical for both production and process,” concluded Tobinaga.
Such flexibility is needed for different roles and is dependent on the purpose of the content engine. 
Assembling the right mix of internal and external talent is vital for a well-tailored engine. “Internal teams are beneficial for core creative roles that require deep brand knowledge, long-term commitment, and a deep understanding of the brand’s values,” explained Li. “External partners bring fresh perspectives, specialised skills, scalability, and flexibility to the content production process.” Ultimately, however, the skills mix depends on the approach to content creation, whether that’s omni- or sustainability-focused, or something else entirely. 
Coordinating creativity
Getting internal and external talent to work optimally together is facilitated by the content engine framework, allowing all parties involved to work toward the same goal with a clear understanding of their individual function. 
“The framework allows everyone to concentrate on their deliverables, ensuring that each component contributes harmoniously to the overall content strategy,” said Carlo Victoriano, executive creative director, Singapore. “This collaborative approach enhances efficiency, creativity, and the ability to navigate diverse touchpoints with precision.” 
The content engine also acts as a single source of truth for essential information like guidelines and specifications which, in turn, helps creators balance creative expression with brand guidelines and maximise their efficiency and output. 
A key feature of the content engine framework is providing transparent processes for all involved, noted Li — something that is especially important for unprecedented projects. Meanwhile, built-in functions like a digital asset manager (DAM) and project management system keeps everyone on the same page. For Tag, assembling all tools and talent under a unified framework is key to the agency’s ability to deliver integrated solutions for fragmented asks.  
The flexibility of the content engine also enables brands and agencies to stay on top of trends and seamlessly incorporate new ideas and partners, like external creators or influencers. “For most of our clients, a stream of creator content is built into our ongoing content engine,” said Elena Fullerton, managing director - social and content, Australia. “We have a database of creators who range in content styles and topics, which we recruit and build into our always-on content planning.”
But for clients and agencies to come together to enable a successful internal and external partnership, they need one thing: trust. Having someone on the agency side to champion and manage the whole process can establish a strong rapport among all parties. This person unites skills and gives the content engine the spark it needs to kick into gear. 
Skills of tomorrow
The point where we now find ourselves was unimaginable a decade ago but advances in technology and the creator economy have made it all possible.
But where do we go from here? As Victoriano sees it, the ever-evolving landscape of content creation necessitates an openness towards change and innovation. “Professionals who can swiftly adjust to changing trends, audience dynamics, and emerging technologies stand at the forefront of impactful content creation,” he said.
According to him, proficiency in localised and personalised campaigns, the ability to harness real-time content relevance, and expertise in modular and scalable content design will become critical for marketers in the coming years.
And then there’s technology. 
“Technology is a game-changer for the creative production process,” said Li, pointing to the power of automation and data-driven insights into consumer behaviour and preferences. “Virtual reality, augmented reality, and interactive experiences offer new avenues for creative storytelling and audience engagement.”
When it comes to AI’s role in the content engine, the view among all interviewees is that there is great value in using technology to shoulder the burden of repetitive work and free up human talent to focus on creativity. 
Likewise, they agreed that the human touch will remain vital despite technological advances, whether in crafting prompts to ensure the desired output or using human insight to identify the real value added or pain points addressed in any given project.
“The synergy between AI and human creativity is where the true potential lies, combining efficiency with the depth of human understanding,” said Victoriano.
“In the future, as we continue to focus on personalisation and audience-centric marketing, empathy will become even more critical. We need more creatives who can tap into the power of empathy to create meaningful and authentic content that truly connects with people,” elaborated Li.
“I feel we have seen a dramatic shift in content over the last few years largely due to creators and the rise of ‘authentic’ content,” said Fullerton.
According to her, this style — which reflects true life and connects to a consumer truth — will only become more important.
“As we delve further into AI, brands will be seeking more creator-led content to ensure there is an authentic and human element,” she continued, noting that creators will need to remain relevant amid changes in technology.
We can’t predict the future — but even with all of technology’s inevitable advances, people will remain at the heart of the content engine, working in harmony with that tech to go further than ever before. “By fostering collaboration between creative teams and technology experts,” Li said, “we can merge technology seamlessly with creativity, unlocking new possibilities, and pushing the boundaries.”
That is where the real magic happens.


Campaign Asia

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