Embracing the Future: Brands, It's Time to Jump

The learnings and inspiration at this year’s Cannes Lions has been amazing – the pending domination of AI was clear and exhilarating to see. But threaded throughout all the conversations and exhibits was one core truth—this is about humans working together to reach out and connect with other humans to drive behaviors. Our purpose as marketers in this industry remains the same: we are the stewards of human connectivity on behalf of our brands. It is the HOW – for both the tools and the people who use them—that is radically changing.

It is evident that the coming year will be dominated by those who are proactive in experimenting and executing in the following main areas:


If you’re not already experimenting with AI, you’re behind: The tiny acronym with significant future influence was the hot topic of conversation everywhere. Forrester expects 80% of creative roles to be augmented by AI in the next 3-5 years. While there were numerous buzzwords and discussions about the applications of generative AI, those who are already experimenting and learning are ahead of the game. At Publicis, we are utilizing various generative AI applications to reimagine our internal operations and client interactions. One of our top priorities is to ensure the safety and ownership of our clients and our intellectual property.

We are achieving this through our partnership with OpenAI, utilizing PublicisGPT—a safe environment that focuses on three main areas: Sandbox GPT for protected innovation and experimentation, Gallery GPT—an ethical curated list of Gen AI startups for use cases including text, image, and video, and Factory GPT, which enables us to co-create innovative marketing solutions with brands, propelling us forward.

Prioritizing critical thinking and incorporating humanity across elements such as diversity and inclusion will be key. However, our favorite quote on the topic from the week comes from Scott Galloway, who likes to say, "AI won't take your job, someone who knows it will."

Strategic alignment and orchestration are key to deliver against today’s collapsed sales funnel: In Forrester’s recent State of the Market research, Keith Johnston and Jay Pattisall shared that the customer lifecycle has collapsed and that brands need to plan and execute across a constellation of moments, creating incentives that prioritize the customer rather than solely internal interests. In fact, companies that have aligned marketing, customer experience (CX), and technology are seeing 2.4 times more profit and revenue compared to their targets.

Those that can successfully drive companywide strategic alignment–getting thousands of people working seamlessly in the same direction–are the ones that will win. And while tools (inclusive of GenAI) can help with this effort, it will take people to reinvent our ways of working, develop new collaboration models and lead other people through these transformative times.

At Formerly Known As, we have honed our approach to focus on the collapsed funnel and building consumer relationships through the integration of social, commerce, and CRM. The importance of these integrated ecosystems will only continue to grow, as they hold the key to unlocking the full potential of customer data and providing audiences the seamless brand experience they’ve come to expect. By connecting and integrating signals throughout the entire customer experience, be it paid or owned, brands can reap significant benefits, enhancing both their bottom lines and their relationship with their customers.

Being bold isn't just the right thing to do. It will also pay off in the long run: The unfortunate discriminatory actions targeted at the LGBTQ community, as seen in Bud Light and Target's inclusive marketing efforts, were a key topic discussed at Cannes. While some let a small but vocal minority influence their actions, now is the time to stand firm, be bold, and demonstrate that there is room for everyone.

Starting with AI bias: It is clear from many studies already that generative AI replicates and amplifies all of the structural biases we have as a society. A small but relevant example is when AI is asked to show the image of professionals in certain fields (CEO vs. service worker) you get a biased response of a white male and a woman of color respectively. We have a choice in this matter; however, as the humans who own and develop these AI tools–we can change the inputs we use within these language models to correct these biases and misrepresentations of people. We need to muster the will and determination to do better this time while this technology is still nascent. We are an influential industry that has fueled much societal conversation and change, regularly sitting at the vanguard of the cultural zeitgeist. Let’s use that power for good.

Similarly, brands need to reflect on what they stand for and how they convey their values. 60% of Gen Z makes purchase decisions based on brand values. This means implementing strategies that reflect these values consistently throughout the year, rather than just during specific times (e.g., Pride Month). It is crucial to ensure that what you communicate externally aligns with your internal practices and support.