Is there a role for the Creative in the Creator Economy?

Katy Sumption, ECD of Social at Atomic London and Creative Lead at Supernova on the once in generation opportunity of the creator economy

Katy Sumption

Executive Creative Director and Creative Lead Atomic London and Supernova


There’s no fighting it. The adland evolution is upon us. The weight of ‘traditional’ advertising monumentally tipped into the former underworld of social and with it the uprising of a billion pound creator economy.

And it comes with some demands; a whole new way of thinking; a completely new strategic approach; and for many, an entire new business model.

But for the creative, it poses an even larger question. Is there still a role for me? And is it creative at all?

Can a lo-fi TikTok really replace million pound shoots and will our fancy free production lunches soon be a thing of the past? Say it’s not so.

Well let’s not be so hasty. I’ll tell you now, for those who adapt, all will be okay, maybe even better. But Soz, yes the lunches might indeed be a thing of the past as creative output takes a far more humble approach.

Take a deep breath and know that more than ever, this industry still needs you and those fancy ideas of yours.

Katy Sumption, ECD of Social at Atomic London and Creative Lead at Supernova

The creative flourish of embracing change 

Firstly be reassured that this ‘creator economy’ malarky can’t be done well without the modern creative, and if you choose not to protest the change but embrace it, you and your career may just flourish. It’s the same with AI. In Fiver’s recent campaign we saw how freelancers careers have in fact reached ‘the next level’ thanks to the terrifying tech tool. So take a deep breath and know that more than ever, this industry still needs you and those fancy ideas of yours.

So let's start with the primary role - think of yourself as Guardians of Brand and Creator Tamers in the unruly Wild West of content creation.

Because let's be real, creators are predominantly out for number one. Understandably their goal is to build their own brand, not your clients. They live in a world where they make on their own terms - creating anything they want and desire (jealous much?). And for most it’s creation for instant results, a reaction to a topical moment - but this is what gets the lols and likes.

But brands can’t operate like this. Your client needs to build their brand for lasting impact. If they were only ever instant and reactive they wouldn’t be a brand at all - they would stand for nothing and simply fade away in the sea of competitors. So it’s your job to make sure the partnership and the creative ideation behind it serves the purpose of building your clients brand first and that the idea and content execution elevates the brand beyond just a funny cat meme, and builds on their brand role and purpose.

Of course, finding creators who have shared brand values makes this a whole lot easier. The partnerships feel more natural and therefore the creative idea works much harder for both parties - meaning, everyone’s a winner. It becomes a wonderful meeting of like minded thinkers built on your love bed of a great idea. High five to you. 

The enduring power of a brilliant creative idea 

Cue to the next and my favourite point. Creative ideas will always be King. All hail the creative.

The fact remains, It’s insightful thinking and creative ideas that have the power to unite people to onboard consumers or to change perceptions - and the creator economy has both insightful thinking and creativity in droves. Know that within the creator economy, they just take a different form.

But the principles remain the same. You still need to find those really sticky insightful moments, that resonate, that are relevant and that are true.

A content partnership rich with insight will travel so much further and create deeper emotional connections with your target audience. Ideas that are ownable to just your client are of course still the goal and your sideways thinking brains are needed more than ever for that. Especially in a world where millions of minutes of content is made daily.

And it’s not just the ideas you’re needed for, it’s ensuring you find the right balance of brand in the creators execution too. After years of being asked to make the logo bigger and to get that product money shot - you already know what really works in terms of content branding and how much you should really be peppering into that bad boy. AMIRITE?! Because brand queues - be it subtle pops of colour or brand sounds - are still incredibly important to make it truly work and ownable for the client.

The only real way for this to work is through mutual respect and admiration.

Katy Sumption, ECD of Social at Atomic London and Creative Lead at Supernova

Mutual respect is a creative advantage 

Now, for the more traditional of the creatives out there this next point might be a tough pill to swallow.

We need to understand and all agree that the only real way for this to work is through mutual respect and admiration. You have to admit that these young gun creators are pretty game changing, and the creators have to acknowledge the skill and expertise that goes into brand building.

So why not think about yourselves like this - Creatives as the industry experts bringing the rich brand expertise that will make that content shine for your client.

And the content creators? As the hyper relevant cultural experts who are bringing your ideas closer to culture and straight into the hands of the audience groups you’re trying to reach.

Or in other words, they’re the ones making you and your clients look pretty cool in front of the people you’re trying to impress the most. Sounds like a good deal.

This mutual respect lays the foundation to any great working relationship and the more you can collaborate with your fellow creator the more authentic and the greater the output.

So this brings me to my last point. The importance of creative collaboration or as I like to call it ‘Open Creation’. 

Embrace long term relationships 

Agencies who form closer relationships with a network of creators and even have their own inhouse creator offering absolutely have the competitive advantage because the creator economy demands a close knit relationship for success. It’s exactly what we’ve built at Supernova. An in house creator network partnered with great strategic and creative thinking that openly create together.

Understanding the intricacies of the creator world, of best performing output and of an individual's fan base will ultimately ensure your creative ideas are executed in the most successful form. Creators are media specialists in their own right and absolutely know what will and won't work for their audiences and on the platforms. Just like you do for your client.

So work with them during both the strategic and ideation process not just as a last minute output. No creative just likes to be given something at the last minute and told ‘to just do it’ and it’s the same for creators. We all want to put our own spin on something. So nurture and grow those ideas together and success will come.

For any worried creatives out there, I hope this article has brought some peace of mind and hope for you and your flourishing creative future. It’s simply a time to listen, learn and adapt and by doing so, you’ll come to see that you and your role are just as invaluable as you ever were. 

To read more from Katy Sumption click here.

Guest Author

Katy Sumption

Executive Creative Director and Creative Lead Atomic London and Supernova


Katy Sumption, Executive Creative Director at Atomic London and Creative Lead at Supernova. Katy has spent the bulk of her career creating progressive talent embedded campaigns for clients such as Papa John’s, Samsung, Uber, Converse, Prince’s Trust, Elgato and Next. Katy joined Atomic London as the social and digital Executive Creative Director in 2020 after working at digital first agencies such as Exposure, Don’t Panic and Jam. Experienced in the world of start-ups, Katy previously co-founded The Elephant Room, an agency dedicated to finding alternative and more inclusive ways of creating. She also has big brand experience having created award winning TV spots for HeyCar at Atomic and fully integrated campaigns for Britvic, Dominos and Unilever at Iris.

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