Creativity in Action: How to make you, your team and your event more creative

Creativity in Action: How to make you, your team and your event more creative

In this insightful session on Day 2 of IBTM World 2021, James Cross, Head of Creative at BBC Creative, discussed what experience designers can learn from other creative industries and how can you manage, measure, expand and deliver creative solutions across your business.

The Tokyo Olympics 2020

During the session, James used some of his projects as case studies, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Talking about the creative brief for the project, James said: “The brief was to get the public excited about the coverage of the Olympics on the BBC and to create the title sequence for the show.

We wanted to show the provenance of Tokyo, mixed with that of the Olympics – taking two disparate things and mixing them together. We wanted to get people excited about not just the sport, but about Japan as well.

“In March 2020, we were about to fly out to Tokyo to do the filming, but that was cancelled so we had to adapt quickly. In the end, we did everything remotely, shooting on Tokyo time and managing it all via Zoom. The film we created worked really well to take the British to Tokyo as best we could after a time when they’d been shut inside for so long.

We had a Japanese designer to create something really legitimate – it’s really important for us that we hire local talent to make things authentic.”

Asked how to measure success, James said: “We obviously measure on viewing figures but the target for all of our creative work is what sort of cultural capital we can get, for example, being talked about on social media and what journalists are saying about us.

It’s not just about making the film, it’s about getting into the zeitgeist. We’re lucky at the BBC as we’re already in the conversation which gives us an advantage, so ultimately, we measure conversations around what we do. Is what we’ve created being talked about?”

Perfect Planet Campaign

Talking about the campaign to promote Perfect Planet – that latest documentary series from Sir David Attenborough, James told the audience “We had this ground-breaking series and we wanted to boost Sir David’s message of the fact urgent action is needed to combat climate change.

So, we set fire to a billboard (not real fire!) – essentially a PR stunt rather than an on-TV stunt, but the activation was all around supporting the message of the show and the final episode, that this is a climate emergency.

Had we waited for COP26 it may have hit harder in hindsight. We have to be wise with our budget so have to do something beyond the ordinary, and things like this are great for measuring the reaction on e.g. social media.”

Where to find inspiration?

Talking about what inspires him, James revealed that “We constantly seek inspiration and share with each other, as there’s pressure to do new and exciting things.

When it comes to the creative idea, if we think the risk is worth taking, the cost is right, and we can get some ‘fame’ from it then we absolutely empower people to do that and we have had success with that kind of thing previously.

“In terms of my personal inspiration, I love to listen to people’s conversations – it helps you stay culturally relevant, and relevance is really important. I go into museums and galleries and I’m an open book – I’m all over Twitter and have a curated group of people I follow. Having your mind open and listening to conversations can be fascinating.”

James Cross, Head of Creative, BBC Creative

James closes with a note on how the creative industry and the limitations incurred as a result of the pandemic has impacted the industry since covid. “Limitations are brilliant for creativity as it gives you something to focus on.

Culturally there have been big changes, as well as to the logistics and way we work; production costs have gone up massively. Personally, I think creativity is the best way to respond, and I’m confident anything the world throws at our industry, we can cope with.

Ideas are maybe a bit cheaper now as we’re all so much more connected which is exciting.”

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