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Cannes Live 2015: Toolkit for Transformation

by Irma Mutuc

Will Sansom, Director of Content & Strategy of Contagious Communication and Rey Velez, Chief Technology Officer of Razorfish Global predicts four (4) provocations for the future and provides the tools on how to survive them.

FRANCE – So much has changed in the last ten years and data shows that the pace of change is currently at its swiftest. It is frightening and exciting at the same time and these speed-of-light changes can keep a lot of marketers tossing and turning in bed at night but also challenge them to get out of bed and meet whatever changes happened during their sleep head on.


The talk enumerated the four (4) provocations and ended each by providing tools on how best to handle them through the CONSUMER, CREATIVITY, and ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE.

The duo identified the first provocation – “Brand loyalty will become extinct.” Data from Razorfish Global shows that there are 6.2 trillion dollars to be made from the “switching economy”. Consumers have lots of choices at their fingertips because aside from the big corporations there are lots of start-up companies which offer many, novel, and diverse products. They also don’t have to rely on the intangibility of brands anymore because they have easy access to word-of-mouth online and online reviews which have now become the greatest influencers of brand consumption. Sansom & Velez also mentioned the emergence of “considered consumption” because it is easy to check what a brand is doing and how true they are to what they claim they are. To survive brand extinction, they suggested that marketers should design around their customers. Brands have access to specific and relevant consumer data and they must use it to develop a personal relationship with their customers. Even the successful brands can’t rest on their laurels because the tide can suddenly turn. They must learn to listen and grow to the direction chosen by the consumer. The second tool will be to creatively disrupt your business and not just your advertising by finding innovative ways to meet your customers’ needs. However, when you disrupt your business, make sure that you keep it within the bounds of your brand’s reason for being. The third tool is to make relevant organizational transformations which again, must be designed to respond to the needs and wants of the consumer.

The second provocation is “The unconnected world will need connecting.” One billion people will be online by 2017 but 4.2 billion will still be unconnected. The challenge is not simply connecting them (not technology per se) but convincing these unconnected people that they need to be connected. Survival of this provocation will depend on how good marketers can educate and enable customers before marketing to them. Creatively, it s necessary to think beyond browsers and find other ways to get your message across and organizationally, let the needs of the unconnected drive the future of your business.

The third provocation is “ Great brand experiences will liberate us from our screens.” We’re paradoxically imprisoned by our screen, we need to channel our marketing communications some other way using technologies that augment the real world and liberate us from our desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile phone screens. What can help marketers survive this is to design for human interface as opposed to designing for screens: sensory, adaptive, intelligent, and emotive. In addition, be ambitious, use your creativity and think of what you can do if you plug your brain to a super computer and think like one. As an organization, Sansom & Velez says you need to make your company part of the mesh and be actively involved in sharing expertise and data through strategic alliances.

The fourth provocation is what the duo deemed as the most hairy goes “In ten years time, your agency will be an algorithm.” Marketing will be automated and programmed a lot more that it is now. But how far can automation go? Sansom says that perhaps the idea of “computational thinking” being responsible for the complete creative process can be logical.

In summary, they reiterate that our goal as marketers is to give consumers exactly what they want when they want it and this is where “computational thinking” can prove to be very efficient. They predict that in the next five to ten years there will be a shift from seducing people into thinking they need to buy a specific product or service into directly fulfilling their exact needs. The key to this, according to Velez, is to be able to map intent to these unmet needs using processes and apply these algorithms to augment and direct marketing creatives. The future of brand loyalty is directly dependent on algorithmic intelligence but what happens to us? Will we all become irrelevant and jobless? Sansom & Velez believes that we’re not going to be out of jobs but we need to learn new ways of doing our jobs. Our place in the process will change but right now, we need to be comfortable with the thought that we don’t know what and where that is yet so the best we can do is not only be open to change but also be willing to adapt to it.

Photo courtesy: Razorfish

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