What can the creatives learn from the statisticians?


Clever words, beautiful imagery and exciting creativity have long been marketing’s domain. But an alternative view of the world has emerged and is creating a divide.

Art and science blend naturally in nature.With the rise of big data, relentless objectivity and the unceasing quest for measurement we must welcome the data scientist. Surely all true marketers now weep for the light that has gone out of their world?

A battle of the brains – right versus left, emotional versus analytical, creatives versus statisticians – is apparently underway. But is this really the case? The division between the ‘rightists’ and the ‘leftists’ is an invention of the early 20th century. Our forefathers would not recognise it. From Leonardo da Vinci (engineer/artist) to Florence Nightingale (nurse/statistician), history is replete with individuals whom we would now refer to as polymaths. For these individuals our so-called divide would be considered ridiculous.

With the rise of data and analytics in marketing and the evolution of digital marketing we need to throw away this new dogma and embrace our other side to become more effective, more complete marketers. In the name of bridging this gap, this blog post, and my next, will outline what creatives can learn from statisticians (or ‘statos’), and vice versa.

Three things creatives can learn from statos:

  1. Numbers are beautiful
    Ever heard of the golden ratio? The ancient Greeks believed that beauty is absolute, and is defined by a mathematical formula.Despite being nearly 3,000 years old, this ratio is still used by painters and photographers when determining the composition of a picture. It is also prevalent in nature, describing the proportions and structure of objects as diverse as the human face and the structure of a nautilus shell.
  2. Our assumptions are often wrong
    What we assume may not be true – the truth is often more surprising than we can imagine. For example, if you buy a used car, statistics tell us your best bet is an orange colour while the odds of two children in a class sharing a birthday is actually 70 per cent. One of stato’s most useful roles in marketing may be as an overturner of conventional wisdom, a slayer of shibboleths, an iconoclast.
  3. In life all things are possible
    We can never guarantee that the outcome is the one we expect. So you need to be able to distinguish between a run of luck, both good and bad, and an error in the conception of a project where some previously unconsidered element worked either for or against you. When we modestly accept this reality, then we can really begin to learn.

However, our creatives can teach our statos a thing or two. Check out my next blog post for what data scientists can learn from marketing’s creative thinkers.

You can find out more from our recent research ‘What Kind of Marketer Are You’?


About Author

Dr. Charles Randall

Head of Solutions Marketing, SAS UK & Ireland

Dr Charles Randall is Head of Solutions Marketing at SAS UK & Ireland where he combines the twin roles of active analytical marketing practitioner, with being a writer and spokesperson for SAS on the application of advanced analytics to business problems. As part of this role he collaborates with leading business schools and market research agencies to carry out original research into the issues facing the modern marketing professional. Prior to working for SAS, Dr Randall's career has included spells in Marketing, Strategy, Finance, and Management Consultancy within both B2B and B2C organisations. He was awarded his PhD in Econometrics by University College Swansea in 1994.

1 Comment

  1. David W. Locke on

    Everyone creates a story. Accounting is no less a story than the bedtime novel.

    Everyone makes decisions. This character is blonde. The connotations go further than the denotational data.

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