Michael McQueen: ‘In an age of disruption, creativity is more important than ever’

Speaking at Nine’s Big Ideas Store, Michael McQueen said there was a risk of marketers placing too much emphasis on buzz topics like data or artificial intelligence and not recognising the value that true creativity adds to both innovation and the marketing process.  

“In an age of disruption, creativity is more important than ever,” said McQueen. “If you look at the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning a lot of the algorithms are making decisions that are impacting on agencies, and if you are just doing transactional work that isn’t going to cut it. 

“The creative stuff is what’s going to keep you one step ahead because that’s what AI can’t do. It doesn’t have a soul. It can’t connect with human beings on a soul level, and good brands do that. The role of creativity is critical.” 



The Big Ideas Store was a pop-up created by 9Powered, which recently hosted a series of events, workshops, research studies and guest speakers.

“In keeping with the theme of The Big Ideas Store this is all about what the big ideas are for media and creative agencies over the next few years,” McQueen said. 

“Both marketers and agencies need to be thinking what are the big disruptions coming for agencies and their clients? How do you gear up for it so that you stay relevant in the face of that change?”

McQueen argued that too many agencies are adopting a short-term mentality potentially limiting their ability to build brand in the long term. 

“Some agencies do get just how big the coming disruptions are, but many of them are reacting to the disruptions and changes in tech, developing a short-term mindset where they focus on metrics but lose sight of what makes an agency sing,” he said. “That’s the secret sauce, the stuff like how do you build a brand story over time.

“Many agencies understand that disruption is coming but their response is sometimes an overreach when it comes to a long-term view.”

The futurist argued that while data was important there was also a role for recognising “gut  feel” and understanding that consumers don’t always know what they want. 

“The important thing for marketers is that they need to be leveraging data but not relying on it too much,” he said. “A lot of the data we are being fed is not accurate and the transference is becoming more flaky. You need to use data where it’s helpful while recognising the role of intuition or gut feel. 

“One example of this is Dyson’s development of the bagless cyclonic vacuum cleaner. When they went to market everyone told them what consumers wanted, and not to make a clear canister. But James Dyson had an intuition that it would work and he was right. 

“When you know your consumers well you can actually get an intuitive sense of what will work for them even when the data is pointing you a different way.

“Too often we are too data-led and becoming hamstrung. We miss the human element – that intuition drives great creative.”