The news is out: we’ve been named Adweek’s AI Agency of the Year!
Each year, leading marketing and advertising publication Adweek honors agencies and marketing services partners who have demonstrated exceptional creativity, innovation and success across various fields and themes. The AI Agency of the Year category is new this year, making us the inaugural winner, and is designed to honor an agency that has shown creativity and ingenuity with applying generative AI to clients’ work. In addition to the work itself, entrants must also prove how they are enabling new efficiencies with the technology. This achievement marks a major step in our becoming the premier AI-first digital marketing services partner, helping brands accelerate and scale their adoption of AI.
Brands often run into one of two common problems when making early moves in AI: they either understand the benefits of the technology but don’t know where to start, or they stitch together a Frankenstein’s monster of point solutions and tools that are ultimately disconnected from each other—inhibiting AI’s potential. Solving these operational challenges is our bread and butter as a consultative partner because we use AI each day—and have built our credentials in the technology over the last decade.
Integration lays the groundwork for AI transformation.
One of the major opportunities in AI is that it serves as a systems integrator, ingesting data and insights from across business units and customer touchpoints to enhance the customer experience and build new efficiencies. At least, that’s the ambition. Each element of the marketing mix—data, media, creativity and technology—must combine for AI to be deployed at its fullest potential.
To train a bespoke brand language model, you first need a solid data foundation and unified workstreams that bring both creative and data disciplines together.
In the past five years, we’ve made the case for an integrated marketing services partner who can unify each of these practices. That process has laid the groundwork for building an AI-powered, end-to-end workstream extends across and merges each of our capabilities. Our recent release of Generation AI, a formative report launched in collaboration with Salesforce, offers a window into how the technology is helping teams shape the entire marketing remit from insight to idea to execution.
Breaking silos and building a culture of experimentation have accelerated our ability to build this mature AI offering for brands. In fact, experimentation with AI has long been part of our business, with Co-CEO, Content Wesley ter Haar telling VentureBeat in 2017, “[AI] will allow us to refocus our efforts on what’s really going to impact the project in a meaningful way––which is design vision, design thinking and real creative leadership.”
But experiments in AI have long been relegated to the realm of R&D rather than the hands of everyday talent. When the generative AI boom suddenly ignited a year ago, making the technology far more user-friendly to people regardless of their knowledge in AI, our team enthusiastically rallied around Slack channels dedicated to brainstorming ways it could help them in their work.
In celebration of the Tomorrowland festival, BMW gave users the chance to create their own music with AI using a chat-based interface.
This collaborative spirit has matured from casual experiments to innovation sprints that push tech to its limits, to products and services built bespoke for brands. Just look at our work with BMW Group, in which we built an AI-powered music creation platform that celebrated the brand’s partnership with EDM festival Tomorrowland. Music fans worldwide could create their own custom festival track by selecting different options in mood, pace and feeling, enabling creative expression on an unprecedented level.
A cohesive, end-to-end workstream beats random acts of digital.
Every brand may have a different need for AI: enhancing the customer experience, overcoming production constraints, activating customer data, or even a combination of those needs. That’s why we’ve built a flexible, AI-driven pipeline that connects a wide range of proprietary and third-party microservices across a single workstream.
In addition to making it easier to develop content at scale, the workstream critically has the potential to break down siloes between marketing and adjacent parts of the business. For example, imagine if your product design team could share 3D renders used to iterate assets that are then tested for performance, ultimately identifying the product angles and other variables in creative that best fit customers’ interest. Marrying product design, creative production, market mix modeling and customer insights, this workstream results in a flywheel that can inform future product designs and content.
"Experimenting with AI is important, but what’s more important are the business workflows,” says Michael Dobell, Co-Founder and EVP Innovation. “AI has sparked the need for workflow transformation, and we guide them through that change, unlocking performance gains, lowering costs of production and finding new ways of working." While marketing may be the most natural place for AI to make an impact right now, it’s actually a harbinger for wider business transformation—and this view, in turn, sets a new expectation for the role that agency partners will need to play to help brands get there.
For Kraft Heinz, we took a strategic approach to helping their in-house agency, The Kitchen, identify where and how AI could drive high value by increasing efficiencies, saving costs and elevating creative output. Together with the team, we developed a roadmap that walked through four key takeaways: data security, internal adoption, testing use cases and establishing adaptable frameworks. Overall, the engagement resulted in actionable, initial steps for the brand’s own internal team to take calculated steps toward AI maturity.
Here's to many more wins in the AI race.
We’ve always called ourselves a new age, new era partner to the world’s most innovative brands. Earning the title of Adweek’s AI Agency of the Year demonstrates that we’re already ahead—and just in time at the dawn of what’s been called the fourth Industrial Revolution.
See what else we've been up to with AI here.
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