CANNES – Artificial intelligence offers brands a wide spectrum of new capabilities, from machine learning insights to enabling more human experiences and interactions. “AI is in many ways like that word innovation,” says Lisa Donohue, Global Brand President of Starcom Worldwide. “There are so many parts to AI that fall under the equation.”
In this interview with Beet.TV at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, Donohue talks not only about the prospects for AI but the talent needs of the modern media agency and how Starcom has doubled down on its human experience positioning.
The continual increase in data and technology fosters the ability for brands to be more personal and “recognize people for what they are, human beings,” which is a change for the better, according to Donohue.
Regarding AI, she sees on one end of the spectrum machine learning leading to better insights “from a significant amount of data as well as then building strategies off those insights.”
On the other end of the band is the promise of more personal relationships, for example the growing use of chat bots. “Bots is a very technology term, but the reality is bots are allowing a more human interaction with a brand,” says Donohue.
Unlike technology that facilitates website transactions, bots can provide users with a direct dialogue with a brand “that can enable me to figure out how the brand can better serve my needs.” Overall, the range of the AI spectrum “is pretty powerful in how it can change marketing overall.”
Donohue segues to the organizational change at Starcom within the past year or so during which management “took a step back” and decided to determine whether the human experience positioning it had staked out was a viable one.
“The resounding answer among our people and among our clients is that human experience is absolutely the right positioning,” she says. “And in fact, you could argue that it’s more right than when we first created it.”
So Starcom “laser focused” on the notion of the power of a human experience with brands. “Human experience is right, but what’s the modern iteration of it? That’s what we spent the last year on.”
With about 30 years of agency experience behind her, Donohue has a keen perspective for the changing role of what used to be referred to as personnel or human resources. The modern media agency needs everyone from data engineers and scientists to storytellers to managers who can horizontally manage those resources.
“It’s a diverse range of talent needs that we have, which on one hand does make it challenging,” Donohue says. “It also opens up a much broader competitive set that we have to deal with.”