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Tumblr’s David Hayes talks the power of creativity in marketing (Includes first-hand account)

David Hayes, head of creative strategy for Tumblr, explained how the popular social network gives power to its own users in the closing keynote of the first day of Toronto’s nextMEDIA conference. He started by introducing Cindy Suen, who caught Hayes’ eye with her hypnotic and beautiful GIFs. Before long, Tumblr had hired her for some marketing campaign work in its newly created in-house ad agency, Creatrs Network.

The site’s first campaign was for the movie Ouija — which featured Suen’s creative GIFs surrounding stills and scenes from the movie — and has since gone on to do work for TRESemmé, Converse and more.

Hayes had three main tips for how to engage with the creative class as a brand.

Who makes your art matters

More or less since the dawn of advertising audiences are exposed to colourful illustrations or beautifully shot video, but the person behind them is never front and centre. That’s why crediting artists is such a huge thing. Don’t pigeonhole someone into a certain kind of art; increasingly, artists experiment with all kinds of mediums, from illustration to photography to animated GIFs.

Open yourself to interpretation

Tumblr has never been shy about embracing remix culture — the site has always been a hotbed for culture jamming. Hayes used the example of car ads. You could see an artful photograph of a new vehicle, or on Tumblr, you can see the car made out of ice or yarn. When Gap released its black jeans, Tumblr promoted them with literal animations featuring just the jeans.

Nothing collects, outlasts and transforms like art

Here Hayes stressed the idea of art being “collectible.” An ad can be a full-page spread detailing why it’s so great, or it can be, in the case of Converse, a number of “shoe portraits” drawn by a variety of artists. The idea is to make the ad campaign memorable.

Above all: pay artists well and one time, and give them credit.

See the rest of Digital Journal’s nextMEDIA coverage on going viral and the art of YouTube.

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