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How Can Creative Technology Help Us Develop Memory Structures and Build Long Term Brands?


Matt Henry, innovation lead at AMV BBDO on the power of creative technology in driving engagement and building powerful brands

How Can Creative Technology Help Us Develop Memory Structures and Build Long Term Brands?

Keeping up with the pace of technology in our industry is a little bit exhausting. With constant and rapid developments in AI and an uncertain future for mixed reality; the desire to keep up often leaves brands jumping on tech trends that are either ephemeral or lack relevance to their consumers. Yet, I remain positive (and passionate) about the tech landscape. Just taking a look around the office as I write this, it’s pretty cool to see the use cases for technology in our day to day lives, from the Meta team testing out the new Quest Pro to creative teams generating beautiful reference images with Midjourney.  

Technology is powering real change in our industry, and not just from a productivity perspective. Creative technology can unlock so many opportunities to get closer to our consumers and build lasting relationships; providing them with experiences and value like never before.  

However, after watching the godfather of effectiveness ‘Les Binet’ speak at SXSW this year, I was inspired to think about the role that experiential technology will play in long term brand building. If you’ve even listened to, or indeed read Les’s theory, you’ll know that successful brands build slowly and deliberately. So, how can we ensure that the brilliant and often consumer centric activations we are creating with technology can truly support our brands as they change the way that people think and feel? 

My first example is one from AMV and a megabrand close to my heart. In 2022, we created Purr More with WHISKASTM. A brand platform that would imbue warmth and wonder into a brand that had captured the hearts of many cat parents. WHISKASTM leant on two levers in order to bring Purr More to life: the first reinforcing that cats purr more with WHISKASTM; and the second committing to helping cat parents keep their cat purring throughout their lives together. We used creative technology to bring each of these two levers to life in a way that would deepen the memory structures surrounding the brand platform. 

To reinforce the first lever we built a utility we affectionately referred to as 'Pay by Purr', an AI model that was trained to understand the different types of purr, classifying them from charming to down right seductive. We made this tool available to curious cat parents through a web based AR experience that rewarded louder purrs with bigger prizes. Of course, any cat parent unable to unlock this elusive purr was offered a voucher to pick up some Whiskas.  

For our second lever, support, we built 'Ask the Cats'. An ecosystem of help content with our very own team of AI talking cats at the centre of it. The cats were trained to listen to pet parents' problems and solve them, offering further support, products and Mars services if necessary.

Both first-in-class technologies reinforce the memory structures that were built in the Purr More campaign and continue to be a valuable gateway to really knowing and understanding our consumer, capturing first party data and allowing us to build a genuine relationship with them over time. 

Technology to support was a theme at Cannes this year with We Capital picking up a Grand Prix for their emotive and superbly clever campaign 'Data Tienda', supporting the financial inclusion of low income women in Mexico. The technology allowed them to collect data on unbanked women through their payment behaviour in local stores, building a credit history and unlocking microcredits towards starting their businesses. The storytelling is powerful and leans on a unique purpose reflected in the brand’s DNA. Because of this We Capital built a narrative that reinforced their brand positioning through the product they created.  

At SXSW, I was similarly inspired hearing Will Harvey talking about technology’s role in helping us to enhance storytelling moments. There are a number of ways in which we can do that, but the most interesting of all is through tapping into the senses. In harnessing the senses we can embed memories deeper. Take the nostalgia of scent, for example. Whether it’s the scent of a linen air freshener that takes you back in time to your parents house, or a song that transports you to your wedding day. Rather than just utilising the two senses we allow ourselves through video production, could we use activation to unlock smell, taste and touch. In doing so, building stronger memories along the way.  

One activation that was able to create a sense of nostalgia is 'Mcenroe vs Mcenroe' by AB InBev brand Michelob Ultra, winning Gold at Cannes in 2022. The experience and craft of the execution from FCB and Unit9 was incredible and stuck firmly in my brain (especially as a tennis lover). However, I question if it was successful when you apply the thinking postulated here. When recounting the experiment only weeks later I needed chat GPT to remind me which brand had commissioned the stunt. My point here is that whilst it was undoubtedly impactful as a campaign, I missed the brand story and developed no affinity towards the beer.  

So, whilst we can be incredibly excited about how disruptively technology has the power to supercharge our brand experiences, allowing us to create activations that will stimulate short term buzz and even exponential growth. Long-term ROI, for now, comes from memories, feelings and impressions. If Les is right and brand comms is a form of training for our consumers, then I am very optimistic about the role that creative technology can play in helping that training to settle into our brains. 

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AMV BBDO, Wed, 29 Mar 2023 12:14:11 GMT