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Artificial Intelligence AI Brand Strategy

Progressive CMO on the keys to effective AI-powered marketing


By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

April 5, 2024 | 5 min read

Ahead of Possible Miami 2024, The Drum is producing a special five-part series spotlighting key CMOs – and how their roles are evolving. This week, Progressive CMO Remi Kent opines on the impacts of AI on the ad industry and the steps that marketers can take to make the most of this powerful technology.

Remi Kent

Progressive CMO Remi Kent will speak at Possible Miami later this month. / Possible Miami

For well over a year now, generative AI has been the topic du jour in marketing, working its way into a growing number of roles and slowly but surely – if the more evangelical voices are to be believed – revolutionizing the industry.

For Remi Kent, chief marketing officer at insurance giant Progressive, AI doesn’t necessarily represent a creative paradigm shift in and of itself; the real potential is only tapped when teams understand how to effectively leverage the technology. It’s like a vein of gold sitting in the middle of a mountain, waiting for human beings equipped with the proper tools and, even more importantly, a willingness to patiently dig.

“While the technology is undoubtedly impressive, it still takes a lot of human brain power and work, as well as trial and error, to achieve success,” Kent says. “Adding skills to your teams to help facilitate these types of efforts will be a growing area in our field.”

At Possible Miami later this month, Kent will extrapolate on this pragmatic, learn-as-you-go approach to AI in a live discussion with Rex Briggs, the so-called ’marketing evolution founder’ at marketing trade association MMA Global.

The two will discuss the creative and strategic process that led to the development of AI-generated audio assets for MMA. This began, according to Kent, by prompting AI models to create multiple versions of a text script and accompanying synthetic voiceovers.

Of course, human intervention and oversight were key in the process. “We were able to turn out multiple versions in a short amount of time, but also needed a lot of refinement along the way,” she says. “Early results look promising and are prompting us to keep exploring the possibilities.”

While Kent is actively exploring the creative potential posed by AI-generated text, images and audio, she says AI-generated video will be the ”holy grail.”

Still in its infancy, text-to-video models have nonetheless evolved rapidly in recent months. Sora, a model unveiled by OpenAI in February that has yet to be released to the public, wowed the world with previews of its photorealistic video creation capabilities.

Kent believes that burgeoning, video-generating AI technology will prove to be a powerful tool in marketing. “Video production is expensive and complex for advertisers, and if we can get to a place where we’re streamlining that process, it could be a game-changer,” she says.

Recent technological advancements have inspired both excitement and anxiety in many marketers. In the midst of such accelerating change, it can be difficult for individuals and teams to chart their course into the future.

When asked about what steps CMOs can take in the here and now to adapt to a constantly shifting business and technological environment, Kent gets back to first principles. First, she says, CMOs must be business-savvy, “with financial acumen, data fluency and a clear understanding of what drives growth and profitability.”

Secondly, she suggests, they must be able to “move at the speed of culture” – that is, constantly have their finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist and continually keep pace with “the fast-paced evolution of consumers’ expectations.”

Finally, Kent says, today’s CMOs must have a firm understanding of – and ability to communicate – the “direct connection” between a brand’s marketing efforts and its financial success.

And in the age of AI, she encourages a mindset that balances both the technology’s vast opportunities as well as its shortcomings – in essence, keeping in mind what humans will continue to do more effectively than AI. While AI will overtake many routine, mechanical tasks, Kent predicts that this will free marketers to focus on contributing to that which AI cannot replicate, ”such as human intuition and genuine emotional expression.”

Remi Kent, CMO at Progressive, will speak at Possible Miami on Tuesday, April 16, at 2pm to inspire attendees with ’AI-Powered Breakthroughs.’ To find out more and to book tickets to the event, click here.

The Drum is a media partner of Possible 2024. Have something to say? Join the conversation. To meet up or get involved with our content plan, learn more here.

Follow our coverage leading up to the event here.

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