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Data can be both your friend and enemy, says Gordon Bowen of McGarryBowen

Speaking at Goafest, Bowen, Founder and Global Chairman, McGarryBowen, says creativity has always outshone data and cites a few examples to prove his point

Gordon Bowen

In the first line of the Bible, God is referred to as the creator. He is not-data driven but is certainly creation-driven. So, is data hell or heaven? asked Gordon Bowen, Founder and Global Chairman, McGarryBowen, at Goafest last week.

“Data is not to be disregarded. While it can be the friend, it can be the enemy as well,” he said.


“What is data capable of doing and what is creativity capable of doing? While major campaigns run on either or on both data and creativity, for McGarry Bowen, being creative, data-driven and to run on techability has become necessary,” he said.

The 2016 US Presidential elections, Bowen said, raised the question whether money should be spent wisely on data or not. He said even after spending $2.5 billion to collect data and project who can be the winner, the outcome was totally opposite to what had been projected.


Comparing major famous campaigns of American Express, Intel Inside, Hallmark and Disney, Bowen explained how creativity outshines data.

“What we did for the campaign of United Airlines is what data can’t do. It includes four things — music, story, fact and artefact,” he said.

Bowen explained how the image of the brand is the sum total of all the communication that is being put out there to the audience.

To a question on what India has to offer to the advertising industry that is so populated, Bowen said, “India’s strength is certainly seen as its weakness. It has passion and ability to show connection, which is required in the advertising space to communicate better.”


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