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How data and creativity can make marketing more effective

Is marketing the ultimate manifestation of creativity and strategy coming together to achieve business success?

How data and creativity can make marketing more effective
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

The science of marketing is a perpetual cycle of examining and adapting. In a digitized and data-deluged world, gauging the psychological, emotional, and behavioral factors that impact consumer decision-making is tricky. According to Sophie Devonshire, CEO of The Marketing Society, marketing needs data and creativity. 

“Data drives insights to make sure there is relevance, but the ability to tell a meaningful and memorable story is the thrill of marketing and the skill needed in leadership.” 

According to her, marketing is an interesting profession because it captures the perfect mix — the ability to use data and imagination, the fusion of art and science, and the blending of “logic and magic.”

In theory, effective brand leadership is straightforward: leaders must possess a deep understanding of their brand, their target audience, and a strategy for connecting with them in a credible and differentiated way. However, simplicity does not equate to ease of execution.

Achieving a certain level of focus and prioritization requires careful consideration and a willingness to learn from one another. Devonshire says, “The Marketing Society helps its members to learn from each other with case studies, stories, and insights shared globally – all of which fast tracks learning and success.” 

The company’s mission is to inspire marketing leaders to excel in their careers while also contributing to their organizations and society through promoting marketing excellence and empowering courageous leadership. 

The company firmly believes that individuals who lead the conversation in business and creative thinking are vital for business leaders to effectively solve problems and approach challenges with innovative perspectives.


Despite significant progress in promoting gender equality, gender parity remains a pressing issue in many industries. Among the challenges facing women in the industry, a lack of female role models to emulate, limited flexibility after returning from parental leave, and a scarcity of proper processes and support to address unconscious bias are noteworthy.

THINK EQUAL is a new initiative that aims to promote diversity and inclusion in the marketing-communications sector throughout the MENA region. The program aims to expedite gender equality by empowering mid to senior-level female managers with 8-15 years of experience to assume more leadership roles in brand management, agencies, and media ownership.

The company intends to accomplish this by providing training, organizing events, offering mentorship, implementing policy changes, creating content, and more. These tangible activities will immediately impact and make a difference in the industry. “We’ll also collaborate with other membership groups, event organizers, and media to ensure equal visibility and opportunity for female talent,” says Devonshire. 

Additionally, the pandemic has disproportionately affected women in the workforce. Given the current environment, flexibility has become a critical factor in the workplace. Job sharing and remote work arrangements, among other options, must be considered to avoid adversely affecting any particular segment of society, both in the near and long term.

To address these issues, Devonshire believes that companies must unite, connect, and share best practices in the fight against gender inequality. 


Aspiring marketers who want to advance into leadership positions need to focus on reflection, connection, and learning, as well as several other key points, believes Devonshire. 

Marketers must stay curious and keep learning, be change agents driving positive change with emotional intelligence. They should see marketing as a commercial function, focusing on understanding the numbers and business strategy for maximum impact. While staying informed about the latest technologies, they should prioritize long-term sustainable growth. Most importantly, they must be highly ambitious, purpose-driven, and aware of their brand’s role in consumers’ lives.

Last year, The Marketing Society UAE partnered with TikTok to launch a scholarship program to advance young marketers’ careers. Coinciding with the UAE’s 50th anniversary, the program awarded 50 scholars complimentary year-long training, webinars, mentoring, and other events designed to improve marketing and leadership skills.

As the industry landscape rapidly evolves, innovation and key relationships are essential for staying competitive in the Middle East. Devonshire says balancing short-term wins with a long-term view is crucial for brand-led marketers, requiring a mix of data-driven decisions and gut instincts. High emotional intelligence and effective team motivation are also essential qualities for a successful marketing leader.

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Karrishma Modhy is the Managing Editor at Fast Company Middle East. She enjoys all things tech and business and is fascinated with space travel. In her spare time, she's hooked to 90s retro music and enjoys video games. Previously, she was the Managing Editor at Mashable Middle East & India. More

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