It’s the age of generative AI (artificial intelligence) such as ChatGPT, Copilot which in turn has lead to a host of debate and discussion on the Internet. One such conversation surrounds the changes that AI could bring into creative roles in marketing and advertising and thereby requires human intervention. In a conversation with BrandWagon Online, Ed Pank, managing director, WARC APAC shared his insights on the role of evolving technology including AI in the advertising and marketing sector. (Edited excerpts)

Q. What is effective communication in today’s time? 

In terms of creative effectiveness, there is evidence that creativity is under threat at the moment because of the economic climate that we find ourselves in at the moment. I firmly believe that creativity at work is critically important. A lot of people have thought about creativity as a way for brands to adopt an original path to solve particular challenges, whereas these days post the pandemic, creativity needs to be about delivering experiences to audiences. So, it is less of thinking about brands and more about the end audience and the value one can bring through an enriching experience. 

Q. At a time when artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be a threat to all of us, how can brands leverage AI and other technologies to create effective communication?

There is a lot of chatter around automation and AI but I think we need to wait and see the development in this space. At an international space,  a lot of agencies are talking about all of their content and production being delivered by AI. However, as a human I am intrigued to know what that is going to look like? I feel that it is not just about AI, but also about EI (emotional intelligence) as we know that effective advertising is all about depicting emotions, which can pull heartstrings emotionally with deep compelling insights.

Q. There is a lot of chatter around people upskilling their roles in order to be relevant in the system. What are those techniques for upskilling in an advertising agency?

I think whether it’s AI or other areas, we need to upskill in new areas. There is a concept of T- shaped strategists, which is developed on the thought that you can’t just be a strategist in one area, but you need to be a strategist or an expert in different areas. This is very challenging for people today, because we don’t have enough time in our hands. So, we are trying to help planners, strategists and marketers to get across new areas, whether it is use of technology, particularly AI or customer relationship management (CRM), among others. There is a lot of disruption in the industry and we need to make sense of that change so that people can leverage them in the right way to drive their businesses forward.

Q. The agency and client relationship has turned more commercial than ever as it is driven by ROI and sales. Do you think the time has come to work beyond driving sales objectives?

I firmly believe that all communication needs to have commercial metrics otherwise we should not be in advertising and marketing. We should not advertise just to get people to look at our campaign, but we want them to look at our campaign and pay attention to it and have a commercial impact, whether that’s now or in the future. Additionally, I think all campaigns need to change behaviour. Campaigns need to raise awareness, put brands on the consideration set for audiences and be able to grow.

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