printer icon
Katy Sweetman

Emotion for the win – Unleash your creativity with the power of AI


On the face of it, it seems like some kind of impossible oxymoron. Huddles of tech marketers around the country discussing, in the same breath:

  1. Not just the power of purpose in the emotion economy (in the not-so-long-dead attention economy it was all about me-me-me and grabbing eyeballs indiscriminately; now it’s a quest to go deep within an ‘audience of one’ and win hearts, meaningfully) but also
  2. The role that AI has to play in augmenting our humanity in order to foster and scale-up these deeply contextual, personalised connections.

But it makes perfect sense… (Or at least it does to me now that I’ve attended the NZ Tech Marketers September event, Unleash your creativity with the power of AI.)

Auckland’s Tech Marketer contingent had the benefit of insights from Amanda Johnston-Pell, IBM’s Chief Marketing Officer for Australia and New Zealand, and our Wellington and Christchurch cohort were joined by the ever-impassioned Isuru (Issy) Fernando, IBM New Zealand’s Chief Design and Technology Officer. Both shared findings from the recent IBM 2019 Marketing Trends report: Nine factors reshaping marketing and how you can stay ahead of them. (We won’t cover this here, but if you haven’t already checked it out, it’s a great read – you should go right ahead and download it here.)

Some key takeaways and AI-assisted* sound bites

Reframing the conversation – from artificial to augmented

Doing this makes it less scary, binary and wo/man v. machine-ish.

Issy says: “There’s a lot of hype and uncertainty – and a lot of fud – out there about what AI is. We need to think of AI as less artificial reality and more augmented reality. It really changes the conversation.

“If you look at humans across civilisation we’ve been augmenting ourselves with machines all the time. Through the Industrial Revolution we created machines to help us physically. And now we’re creating machines to help us intellectually. And that’s really, in a nutshell, what artificial intelligence is: a natural extension of what human beings can do at their very best.”

What AI is not…

Issy says…

  • It’s not about Big Data

“AI is not about big data. AI is about squeezing value from the small amount of data you may have.”

  • AI projects aren’t (necessarily) IT projects

“It’s not a technology conversation. It’s about the data that you as a marketing organisation, as marketing professionals, have access to. It’s about using AI in very creative ways.”

  • Contrary to popular belief, AI is not a “big, amorphous thing”

You can break it down into small intelligence blocks. “It’s about simple things, done really well.”

Extinction comes to those who wait. AI is happening now and it’s everywhere.

Issy’s prediction: In the very near future, “AI is going to touch every single industry, and professionals in every single industry are going to interact with an AI system every single day.”

What’s more, Adweek tells us that AI is the New Battleground for Brand Marketers and that “Most brand experiences will be delivered through AI by 2025.”

Although Issy reckons it will happen sooner. “I think that’s a very conservative assumption,” he says. “The main question will be whether or not your brand will still exist.”

Some cool use cases (and a tear-jerker, for good measure)

Issy’s parting advice…

“Get started. Get curious. Be inspired. Experiment. You know your customers best. You know your brand best. You know your organisation best. Don’t wait for IT.

“Come up with some crazy ideas. Some of the most interesting use cases I’ve seen [have come about] when the organisation, the brand itself, came up with a crazy idea and explored it to see what could happen.”

So… What’s your next – or first – AI experiment?

* Here’s a disclaimer of sorts… It may come as no surprise to learn that AI played a role (although I still like to think I played a bigger one) in the making of this blog. Check out for your next AI-flavoured party trick at a meeting near you. (Also note: no small furry animals were harmed in the making of this blog.)

Photo by Dušan Smetana on Unsplash

We have more events like this one coming soon – don’t miss out!

Postscript – The but wait, there’s more bit…

And then, next minute, no sooner than the plastic nametag holders were packed away for the next NZ Tech Marketers event, the AI Forum’s comprehensive research report, Towards our Intelligent Future – an AI roadmap for New Zealand was released, calling for urgent action for New Zealand to begin applying AI to help us achieve our wellbeing, sustainability and economic goals. A fantastic resource and rallying cry.

You can download the report here.

Katy Sweetman