Ad:tech: Keynote Focuses on Design Through Creativity, Social Responsibility

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CHICAGO -- Design consultant Lauralee Alben gave the closing keynote for ad:tech's first day and challenged the audience to look at moments in personal and professional lives to find inspiration for innovation.

Called "The Creative Continuum: Designing a Strategic Flow of Ideas and Innovation," Ms. Alben asked the rhetorical question, if we were riding the wave of commodification or the wave of innovation, calling creativity the difference.

"Design is the conscious planning of meaningful acts that influence our relationship to ourselves, each other, those yet unborn, to the sacred and the web of life," Ms. Alben said. "It is as natural as breathing to everyone."

She addressed creativity and sustainability through her "Sea Change Design Process" theory, a five level design strategy that she described using a metaphor of throwing a rock into water and watching the ripples.

These tactics start with intention. Business people need to have the intention to design and drop the false model of creatives. The second idea Ms. Alben suggested was to design a creative environment.

She said that design originates across a continuum and it needs to be in a dance with human interaction and world events like: terrorism, globalization, humanity and technology. Marketers should also identify how consumers impact culture. This can be done by letting clients help design products, like Ms. Alben did at Apple in the early '90s.

The next key to the design continuum is to tap into the source of creativity. Ms. Alben stressed the importance of looking at the interaction on a physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual level. Advertising shouldn't be a manipulation. Consumers want transparency, authenticity and honesty.

The fourth key to the design strategy is to connect the continuum of creativity. Ms. Alben stressed the importance of connecting from the soul to the surface to create a flow. This led into the final component of the theory, which is to direct the flow of creativity.

"It happens when you intend to create without end and tap into the creative source which produces an environment that is life giving," Ms. Alben said.

This theory was then applied to two examples, Proctor and Gamble's Secret campaign and EcoMedia's environmental campaign. Both used design for social responsibility and saw profitable results: Secret by targeting the social issues of teenage girls and EcoMedia by marrying corporate money with environmental concerns.

"Create meaningful work so that businesses and people profit," Ms. Alben said. "Then you can stop having a conversation about surviving and start having one about thriving. Who we become is a conscious choice that we are capable of."



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