Earlier this year my employer, Column Five, gave me and two others the great opportunity to work on a project free of many of the typical constraints I as a producer have on a day to day basis. No set guidelines, no lengthy approval processes, and no budget. Now, none of these are outright impediments to creative work. On the contrary, any one of them can spur innovation. You work with what you have and you always come to bat with the goal of knocking it out of the park. In fact, some of the time not having any parameters can be just as anxiety-inducing as having none at all. Shakespeare gave himself rules for his sonnets; would anyone argue that any of the 154 of them weren’t creative? Parameters are your friend. In cases such as these where there weren’t many to begin with, we made them up as we went along, letting the data and a shared design sensibility inform our visual representation.
The data came from market research giant, Nielsen. Along with The Economist, Nielsen offered a “Data Visualization Challenge” through InnoCentive, an organization that offers a platform for organizations to pose”challenges” for potential “solvers.” Given that data visualization is at the heart of our organization, the team at Column Five was excited to meet this particular challenge. I joined forces with one of our incredible designers and a very skilled developer in order to transform a spreadsheet of data on global advertising spending into something that looked great and would be insightful and enjoyable to navigate for users. The interactive graphic that resulted from our efforts is here.
Today, I’m pleased to share that out of hundreds of submissions, our work was chosen as one of the seven finalists! We are so grateful to InnoCentive and of course, Column Five, for the chance to collaborate on what was largely a blank canvas in order to create something that we hope people will enjoy exploring and perhaps inspire new ways of thinking about our world and the vast amounts of information flowing from it.