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Emerson’s passing reminds us DM is multi-faceted

As the tributes pour in for Andi Emerson, the indomitable founder of the John Caples Awards who passed away last week, we are given the opportunity to mull the importance of creativity in the DM world — one that is often seen from the outside to be made up of cold facts, numbers and little else.

Of course, the industry would be nothing without cold facts and numbers. It’s what’s done with them that presents the opportunity for creativity. At the eTail show in Palm Desert, CA last week, retailers talked about the research, testing and measuring they were all doing, aided by the constant innova­tion from the vendors present. But all of them had their own tales of how they looked at these facts, and had the “aha!” mo­ment, when they realized that they could look at this informa­tion in an entirely different way, and took a leap of faith into a new creative direction.

The Caples judges and board members are strict about results being present in the creative work being judged, even though the results aren’t scored. But while it’s both difficult and irrelevant to look at creativity and results separately, sometimes the creative part of the process is overlooked when the numbers are being tallied.

Patrick Fultz, the Caples’ COO, told me that Emerson’s legacy is helping the industry understand the power and the value that the creative people bring to the process. I think her legacy can go one step further: There are plenty of people in the agencies, client marketing departments and vendor compa­nies who don’t have the word “creative” in their name, yet dis­play a beautiful combination of informed thinking, experience, and sheer gut, who should also be recognized. Let’s celebrate the creativity that resides in everyone, and thank Emerson for reminding us that DM requires both sides of the brain.

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