The answer, according to Deeplocal, an innovation studio based in Pittsburgh, is to recruit a team of experts in disciplines rarely found in marketing, including mechanical, electrical, robotic and aerospace, re-train them to think like creatives and adapt the agency internal culture to allow these experts to succeed.

Deeplocal’s chief creative officer, Patrick Miller and the studio’s founder and CEO, Nathan Martin took to the stage at Cannes Lions 2017 to explain why retrofitting an engineering ‘lab’ to an ad agency will fail every time.

“Engineers are trained to believe that they need a clearly specified requirement document before you even begin to work, that all the unknowns must be removed and that they must work on their area of expertise before handing over to someone else. That’s not how advertising works,” says Deeplocal’s Martin. “But with the right work culture and training, these engineering processes can be adapted to advertising timelines.”

Miller and Martin believe that engineers who thrive in a creative agency environment share the same traits – curiosity, empathy for other disciplines, the capacity to solve problems outside of their domain, the desire to find the simplest solutions, exceptional communication skills and a shared belief that seemingly impossible things are only impossible because we are looking at them the wrong way.

If they are given senior positions within the agency model and autonomy to lead the creative, they can help solve brand challenges with robotic and mechanical engineering solutions.

“With the right personalities and a creative process that starts with engineering, you can create a hybrid advertising and engineering approach that works because it’s properly integrated. But you can’t just drop mechanical engineers into a traditional advertising agency model and assume you’re going to make robotics – it just doesn’t work that way,” Martin concludes.