Microsoft CMO: 'I predict a resurgence of creativity'

Richard Robinson
Richard Robinson

Paul Davies, head of consumer marketing at Microsoft believes there will be a resurgence of creativity in the face of the pressure of automation.

Speaking at the Creative Equals conference in London yesterday he said:  "Creatives and creativity has had a hard time the past few years because we have had all this technology around automation and programmatic which marketers have loved because it is all about cutting costs."

However, he told the conference that he sees "a resurgence of creativity because there is more of an understanding that creativity is such a differentiator."

Davies added that the future of creative work is changing fundamentally and that he is passionate about the fact that it is no longer about the nine-to-five and the confines of the office. Instead, he points to the rise of portfolio careers as a key shift in the creative landscape.

He said: "I see people entering the world of work and building portfolio careers. One of our marketing managers is a fitness blogger, she is training as a personal trainer and she can bring those passions to the work."

Laura Joseph, director of digital products and propositions at Barclays, added that creative roles are the one set of jobs that are safe from automation.

"What is it as humans we bring to the table? It's our humanity amid the progress of technology. We can bring that flash of opportunity you don’t get from AI or automation," she said.

Joseph added that much of what the bank is doing in digital is about building capabilities. "That means you need to start with the customer and not AR or VR or a shiny new piece of tech," she explained. 

This means that practitioners need to be creative, but also be able to understand data. She added: "At the agencies we work with, I am looking for that creativity that imagination but then having the ability to back that up with hard data."

New frontiers

The lively and wide-ranging panel, hosted by Richard Robinson, managing partner of Econsultancy, also discussed the challenges faced by brands working on briefs and new technologies which are untested. 

Rak Patel, UK head of sales at Spotify, said that a lot of work brands are doing haven’t been done before. He pointed to the work Spotify did with Smirnoff for the Equaliser campaign. Last year the top 10 most-streamed artists on Spotify were men. The brand then created an API which allowed users to see the gender split of the music they listened too.

The panel also touched on the challenges of relying on outdated gender stereotypes. Zoe Clapp, chief marketing officer at UKTV, urged brands to ditch outdated segmentations; particularly the reliance on dated notions such as "housewife": "Lets all agree just not to use that any more."

Meanwhile, Barclays Joseph added that brands need to ensure that "our briefs live up to our expectations’ when it comes to challenging stereotypes". 

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