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Brand builders on using artificial intelligence

Thank you for an insightful conversation. From L-R: Moderator Ken Lerona (Home Credit), Speaker JL Erestain (AdSpark), Panelist Fitzgerald Chee (BPI), Panelist Vicky Marquez (Thinking Machines) with Chrissy Roa (Ayala Land Inc.) and President Mick Atienza (Smart Communications).

By Jomarc Angelo M. Corpuz

As with any transformative technology, artificial intelligence (AI) brings a host of advantages and disadvantages, shaping the discourse around its adoption and regulation.

On one hand, continuous advancements in technology have made AI an innovative force that has impacted every facet of daily life. On the other, AI has also caused concern, especially in the areas of job displacements, dependency and reliability, and of course, existential risks.

In a panel discussion entitled “Brand building in the age of Artificial Intelligence” during the Philippine Association of National Advertisers’ (PANA) first General Membership Meeting last Jan. 25, the Adspark COO JL Erestain, Vicky Marquez of Thinking Machines, and Fitzgerald Chee of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) delved into how AI can affect brand building and advertising for better or worse.

Mr. Erestain started the forum with a speech encouraging a room full of industry leaders and brand builders in the Ascott Hotel in Makati to see what AI could bring to their respective brands and companies rather than hesitating to try the relatively new technology.

“We all have questions about AI. How to tap its powers, how to use it without getting lost in the new tech’s ways? And with AI changing faster than a chameleon, it is natural to feel uninformed” the COO of Adspark commented. “So instead of fearing AI, let’s explore what it could mean for brands like ours.”

He also spoke about how brand builders can benefit from using AI in their industry, noting that it has the potential to make their tasks smarter, faster, and better.

“When we forget about the fancy passwords and when we talk about real results, AI can actually be your human in all sorts of ways like managing tech roles and keeping customers happy with chatbots. AI has got your back,” Mr. Erestain added.

Where can brands start

“In terms of starting, at least the way that I think of it, it’s in phases,” Ms. Marquez of Thinking Machines said.

She stated how organizations have different levels of exposure and experience in using AI. There are some businesses who are just starting; there are some who would like to mature; and there are also some who already have advanced knowledge of the technology.

“It’s about using [Chat GPT and Bard] to really try to inform yourself and, at the same time, also engaging with other experts [of artificial intelligence]” Ms. Marquez added.

For businesses who would like to mature, she advised that it’s all about building new spaces. For her, a good place to start is large language models (LLM). LLM is an AI algorithm that uses deep learning techniques and massively large data sets to know and understand how humans interact and speak allowing a more humanizing experience with the user.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chee of BPI shared anecdotes about how their company came up with the idea of using artificial intelligence not only for their employees but also for their customers.

“For us in the digital space, it’s really on how we can help our clients better their management of finances. On the other side, it’s also about the business itself. How we can better be more efficient so that we can better serve our clients.” Mr. Chee said when asked about why BPI began using AI.

Additionally, Mr. Erestain said that brand builders and advertisers can start small by pinpointing areas in their work where AI can help; but they have to do so immediately.

“What you need to do is to identify that small process or small need in your brand-building process where you think AI can help you. Then, you can ask for help from others, like Thinking Machine, and get experts to help you navigate the AI journey,” the Adspark COO noted.

AI and creative resistance

One of the misconceptions floating around when it comes to AI is that it might cause job displacement. Among all the people in the brand-building industry, individuals from the creative side are always the most resistant when it comes to AI. This is because AI makes their jobs easier and may eventually replace them.

Regarding this misconception and resistance, Ms. Marquez noted that several factors have to be considered when it comes to this conversation, including a brand builder’s relationship with their people, knowledge about the wonders of AI that they use in their daily lives, and the fact that AI can be a tool that helps them.

Another concern that creatives may have when they use AI is how they can be too dependent on the technology. When a participant in the meeting asked about this dependency, he noted that while AI does make his work more efficient, his reliance on the technology made him less efficient when he does work without it.

In response, Mrs. Marquez said that it takes will and a lot of process-building to make sure that people don’t over-rely on AI.

“It’s about cultivating creativity in other ways, outside of work, outside of personal life,” she said. “I think that’s a great way to kind of remind and exercise that part of your brain that is creative.”

What’s next for AI

AI in general can supercharge brands. From pinpointing targeted audiences to crafting personalized messages for press briefs, the technology can help significantly improve the efficiency of an organization.

When asked about what’s next for artificial intelligence, Mr. Erestain pointed out the possibilities that may already be happening.

“So what’s next? The rules of branding are being rewritten by AI. What will loyalty programs look like in the metaverse? How will AI write stories that touch our hearts? And the AI-powered brand landscape is changing, so what’s next [might be] what’s already here,” he stated.

“Everyone will be forced to use artificial intelligence whether we like it or not. What that implies is that all the tasks that are automatable will be delegated to AI. I know that sounds scary, but that just means that will be shifting our priorities” Mrs. Marquez added.

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