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What Robots Can Teach Us About Human-Centered Creative

4 min read
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What Robots Can Teach Us About Human-Centered Creative

In his Forrester report “CMOs: Define Your Role in Digital Transformation,” Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Thomas Husson notes that the average CMO tenure is just over four years. “This volatility is primarily due to the CMO’s poorly designed, unclear role and the high mismatch between the CMO’s authority and the CEO’s expectations,” writes Husson.

It’s easy to understand the frustrations that CMOs face. In an effort to better align the creative and technical capabilities of the brand, many organizations have redefined or broken up the CMO role into new ones: things like Chief Collaboration Officers or Chief Innovation Officers, both of which are positioned to bridge together the marketing and tech departments.

A lack of role definition can severely limit the effectiveness of a brand’s marketing efforts. “Consolidation and ownership are key when developing a campaign that goes beyond the status quo and evolves the brand,” says Chris Byrne, Director of Partnerships and Production at MediaMonks. “Some organizations involve too many decision-makers in the creative and production processes, while others enlist a Jack-of-all-trades who masters none.” The result can be a campaign that feels unfocused rather that holistic across the user journey, signaling the need for brands to rethink the way they reach audiences.

Monk Thoughts Many organizations involve too many decision-makers, or a Jack-of-all-trades mastering none.

Transforming the Marketing Approach

In conversation with brands, Byrne has noticed that many of them still focus on making a shiny film or TVC that anchors their marketing strategy for a year—with support for other channels like social taking a back seat. “It should all be thought about up-front,” says Byrne. “Otherwise, you’re missing out on the breadth of the full consumer journey, and you’re incurring a lot of costs by scheduling different shoots every month.”

It’s easy to see why despite the costs, brands remain focused on the traditional big-idea model. “A nice film is something you can proudly show off, while it’s more difficult to show off a social post,” Byrne says. MediaMonks founder Wesley ter Haar made a similar point in the Forrester report “The Cost of Losing Creativity,” mentioning the importance not to dismiss opportunities for purposeful brand-building across the digital ecosystem.

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Our focus on digital video tailor-made for Facebook resulted in an innovative, new format for L'Oreal Pais--the ultra-short "unmissable ad."

Far from producing a TVC and calling it a day, brands must be equipped to look at the options available to offer their audiences more lasting experiences that speak to the contexts through which they engage. “Look at the success of brands like Quip or L’Oreal,” says Byrne. “These CPG brands have met success because they’re able to convey their value through a series of short social content.”

Building Equity Through New Interfaces

The evolving marketing approach goes beyond positioning relevant content to the user across touch points. Today’s most future-focused brands are seeking out new interfaces and ecosystems in which they can carve out a space and mark their territory, offering remarkable and never-before-seen experiences in the process.

One brand that has done an excellent job in anticipating future creative possibilities is Mastercard. Having dropped the “Mastercard” name from its logo earlier this year, the card lender unveiled its sonic brand identity—basically, the sound version of its visual identity, which will include hold music, acceptance sounds and sound logos. The change anticipates a world in which voice-operated and screenless digital devices become the primary interfaces through which consumers engage with the brand.

Monk Thoughts I don’t think that advertising, the way we know it, will last for a very long time.

Voice is one major interface on the horizon, but what about augmented reality? Popular musical artist Childish Gambino has innovated beyond the typical music video with his Pharos AR app—released this year and developed in collaboration with MediaMonks, Google and Unity—which treats users to a personal and interactive performance that takes place within their immediate surroundings. In addition to bringing elements of Childish Gambino’s Pharos Festival to users no matter where they are, the app serves as a direct channel through which the artist can release new music and additional content.

Offering New Possibilities with the Latest Tech

Both of the forays into semi-uncharted territory mentioned above give brands the opportunity to create resonant, emotive experiences—which is exactly the thing that’s missing from too many campaigns in the era of ad blocking. Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Mastercard noted the need for advertising and creative to go a little further to deliver purposeful, value-added experiences. “With all the ad blocks, with the migration of consumers to ad free environments, even by paying money, I don’t think that advertising, the way we know it, will last for a very long time. It’s going to transform completely,” he said on stage at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity last month. “In that situation we have to find alternate ways [to reach the consumer].”

And Mastercard definitely knows some unique ways to get people together—like employing advanced telepresence robots that let hospitalized children step onto the soccer field with their favorite players, as seen in its “Impossible Mascots” campaign.

The campaign shows the power to provide more purposeful experiences that don’t just touch viewer’s hearts through the TV screen, but truly impact lives for the better. Known for its iconic “Priceless” campaigns that highlight extraordinary experiences, Mastercard leveraged cutting-edge technology to truly make the impossible possible. Of course, pulling it off was tricky: working with WMcCann, we developed the robots to ensure they could safely traverse the field’s terrain in rain or shine. A built-in display and camera enabled the children to communicate with players face-to-face, and custom-designed streaming software ensured a crystal-clear signal immune to interference from TV transmitters and radio frequencies.

Of course, not every brand is in the market to develop custom-built, state-of-the-art robots—although it sounds like the world would be a cooler place if they could. Still, the point stands that brands must evolve beyond the traditional Madison Avenue mindset to make a bigger impact on their audience across their journeys. By developing more focused roles capable of marrying creative and tech, or by signing on partners who can fill in those gaps, brands begin to take the first step into an impactful future of resonant, meaningful messages.


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The website has been translated to English with the help of Humans and AI