Digital is powerful but weaker without the human touch of marketers

“Every corporate body is terrified of change. They all say they want to ‘go viral’, but when it actually does, everyone is terrified.”

Ruth Mortimer

So said Joanna Coles, editor of Cosmopolitan US at a Cannes Lions panel debate hosted by AOL. But Coles was just highlighting a split that we can all see in marketing today.

Brands and marketers are being pushed to create cutting-edge, real-time, shareable content.

But at the same time, few organisations are set up to work and create content like this.

I moderated a session in Cannes this week with Jonah Peretti, founder of BuzzFeed (and last week’s Marketing Week cover star) on exactly this issue.

I asked Peretti: how do you structure your organisation to be reactive? And should marketers even care so much about viral content when so much money is being moved into areas such as programmatic advertising?

Peretti told me that the brands that will succeed in the viral content area are those that are absolutely clear on their own identity. He said that being prepared for real-time, reactive and culturally relevant content had to be an evolution for your brand, not a revolution.

Marketers need to know exactly how a brand would react, behave and contribute to any event because they understand the brand so well. And Peretti added that human-to-human content is even more important when so much is being automated.

This idea of human-to-human goes back to Coles’ message at Cannes this year, where the issue of diversity among creatives was all over the agenda.

It was with this in mind that I also moderated a session in conjunction with Hearst Magazines to promote its new Empowering Women in Creativity competition, something that MarketingWeek is very happy to support (see here for more information).

It all comes back to the fact that brands and their marketers are a reflection of society.

The more diversity there is in terms of gender, ethnicity and background, the more people will be pulled in by the message. It makes good business sense.

At Marketing Week, we want to help great marketers of every type get ahead. I hope you’ll be joining us next week at our free event Marketing Week Live and our Engage Awards in London.

We will gather to tackle the same issues that we’ve seen raised at Cannes this week: creating marketing excellence and highlighting the great people working in this industry. We can do that better together.