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Generative AI could change the game. How should early career marketers respond?


By Sam Bradley | Senior Reporter

March 27, 2023 | 11 min read

Generative AI may bring opportunities, but it also poses a challenge to marketers and agency talents. This week’s debate features voices from our Future 50 list.

How should you respond to the challenge posed by generative AI tools?

How should you respond to the challenge posed by generative AI tools?

Artificial intelligence is spreading like wildfire in marketing businesses. Many marketing leaders have gone to pains to state that jobs in the industry will likely change, rather than disappear.

How can agency and brand staffers in the early stages of their careers manage that transition? We asked The Drum’s Future 50 for their perspective.

How do you solve a problem like... staying ahead of AI?

Teena Matthew, graphic designer, AKQA

The impact of AI on creativity is a topic that is widely discussed in the industry. While some people may feel anxious about the potential negative implications of AI taking over, it is also important to recognize the opportunities it presents. AI can help us deliver projects more efficiently and effectively, freeing up time to focus on more innovative and creative briefs.

Rather than fearing the rise of AI, we can embrace it as a tool to enhance our creativity and productivity. Ultimately, the goal of technology is to improve our lives and create a better future so we should approach AI with this mindset and remain ahead of the curve by using these tools to our advantage.

Jesper Andersson, managing partner, Nord DDB

In my view, AI is a tool that when combined with talented and creative people, it has the potential to give fuel for great ideas - at a faster pace. That’s why I think it’s more about the combination of AI and people and how it allows for fast creative problem solving, rather than AI replacing the sensible touch of humans. A couple of weeks ago, we launched RAND, our dedicated Hybrid Creative Platform which was the biggest leap so far for us in testing, learning and implementing AI as part of the creative process at NORD DDB.

Martin Magner, creative director, Virtue

I’ve always been someone who has struggled to articulate my feelings in words, I often rely on what I wear and make to communicate with me. That’s why GPT3 (and now 4) acts as an incredible creative confidence tool that I use daily to help take ideas and spawn them into different shapes. Whether it’s overcoming any creative walls I find myself hitting, articulating hard-to-describe feelings and turning them into new lyrics for my upcoming EP or attending meetings for me while straddling multiple time zones – I’m almost always tapped into Ai. It’s an iconic tool we should harness to help us do things we never thought we could do. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Sumera Dang

Sumera Dang, global strategy manager, Zenith

Technology is a tool, people give it meaning and purpose. AI is an increasingly intelligent tool, but it ultimately works under direction and input from humans. It is essential to embrace the speed and scale at which AI can support and upscale existing business or individual functions - whether it's the use of Grammarly to check your emails or ChatGPT to guide marketing insights.

Consequently, while the concern around AI replacing existing roles in the industry is understandable, AI is not a replacement for human input in an industry that relies on customer connection and emotion. As automation revolutionizes the industry, the future of jobs will evolve into new opportunities that focus on empathy, contextualization, creativity, leadership, and social connection. These key skills need to be layered onto technological growth to reach groundbreaking execution. As machines are created to do what humans can do, there is a need to hyperfocus on what only humans can do. Unlocking these unique abilities in collaboration with AI is the key to unlocking our full potential.

Maddie Davies, digital PR manager, Propellernet

As a digital PR team, we are always looking to create stories that are completely unique for journalists and Midjourney allows us to do that. For example, for’s net zero page, we used the AI image generator to imagine famous in the year 2100 impacted by global warming. What better way to highlight the dangers of climate change than showing them? The striking images landed global coverage from travel, lifestyle and science sites, plus tech domains that were impressed by the capabilities of AI. This is just the beginning of how we will be using this for marketing and creative campaigns!

Dan Rawley, digital marketing manager, Evoluted

The key advantage marketers have over AI is creativity and unique ideas. AI is brilliant for responding to prompts or creating something based on what's already out there - so the way to stay ahead of it and avoid becoming redundant is by continually being able to create something fresh.

Fundamentally, a human understanding of what people want and what kind of messaging they’re likely to respond to is something AI will always struggle to grasp – in other words, clever copywriting that grabs attention will be much harder to automate than batches of generic product descriptions.

AI brings huge opportunities but the most effective use is pairing it with clever people who use it alongside their skillsets, rather than one or the other.

Rewati Khare, group head, SEO and media planning, Dentsu Creative India

While AI is becoming increasingly prevalent in the marketing industry, it is important to remember that AI is a tool, not a replacement for human creativity and ingenuity. As you mentioned, many executives recognize this and believe that traditional roles in marketing will not disappear but rather evolve.

However, it's equally important to continue honing one's creative and decision-making skills, as these are areas where human marketers have a clear advantage over AI. Being able to think outside the box, come up with innovative ideas, & connect with audiences on a personal level will always be valuable in the marketing industry, regardless of technological advancements.

In short, staying ahead of AI requires a combination of staying informed about the latest AI tools and techniques, while also continuing to upskill and sharpen one's vivid and strategic thinking skills.

Hannah Thompson, global media director, Tug

We’ve been playing around with tools like ChatGPT from a planning perspective – asking it to cover some of our desk research – and, to be honest, it’s been giving us some great insights. It’s still up to us to decide what we do with those insights though, so I don’t think we’ll be completely redundant for a while!

We’ve also realized that it’s now more important than ever that we know how to really discuss the data, insights, and tech and so every single person in the agency is being upskilled in data storytelling and analytics.

Everett Muzzy, senior vice-president, content community and social media, Serotonin

Spend time understanding the technology behind these emerging tools so you have the right attitude toward them. There are an unbelievable number of tools emerging right now — each of them promising to revolutionize marketing work. But the vast majority of these tools are just slightly different veneers on top of the same underlying AI technology & datasets. With any new technology, the ability to understand what truly is or is not revolutionary will help people in our industry figure out which tools will actually make a difference in unlocking creativity, content creation, and analysis.

Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro, senior XR & metaverse producer head of metaverse fashion week, Decentraland

Gigi: For centuries, humans have worried about being replaced by machines. Our sense of obsolescence is a fear that lives within us. Today we fear we will lose our jobs, but we will create new functions. Storytellers I think will actually be the next profession that gets a resurgence. Someone has to tell the stories to the machines about our history. We have been in this cycle of 'what is next' for centuries. As long as we learn to dominate the tool, and not be dominated by them, we will always find new layers where our humanity can make a huge difference.

Njideka Akudinobi, global associate director planning and activation, Carat

It is imperative that marketers look to AI with the same optimism as engineers. Engineers utilize AI to find a quick solution or write the majority of their initial code. Marketers should apply this approach by using AI as a baseline to springboard ideation while understanding that AI is not a shortcut to building a human connection. For example, most generative AI is written in one language. While AI is integral to the future of work, it cannot be the resolution that discounts human knowledge since the inputs that power it lack diversity of thought.

Danielle Hallack, senior producer, Saatchi & Saatchi

The threat of “if we can’t do it smarter, faster, cheaper, we’ll find someone else who can” permeates our every day. I see AI as a tool that enhances my job versus threatens it. If ChatGPT can help me problem-solve and get me quick accurate answers in minutes, I’m here for it. That said, producing is a human sport. We get things done by assessing the landscape, adapting to personalities, problem-solving and making the perfect match. I think it takes a human to execute creative based on the nuances of the human spirit and the reality that things usually don’t go according to plan. Who will calm a line producer down when we are two hours into OT? I’d be happy to delegate that job to a robot.

Amy Gattoni, senior account manager, Jack Health

I believe AI will never replace humans completely; there is an opportunity, but not in the way you think. If you asked ChatGBT to tell you what the theme of your conference should be, AI will provide you with a response detailing conference themes. The opportunity lies not in the response you receive, but in reading between the lines – where are the gaps and how can your brand stand out among the responses? While AI is combing the internet to tell you what’s common, why not ask ourselves, how can we use it as a way to stand out?

Find out who else made the Future 50 list now.

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