The Marketing Association’s Brainy Breakfast in Christchurch last Thursday explored AI and Marketing, providing real-life advice on how to approach AI as marketers. The event featured three guest speakers, Brooke Howard-Smith, John Waltmann, and Gareth O’Connor, who discussed AI’s influence on Marketing. The speakers provided a range of critical perspectives, stimulating thoughts among the audience around the integration and potential of AI in marketing.

The event MC was Michelle Shirtcliffe, Co-founder and CEO of Publica, who has a strategic responsibility to integrate technology to provide client solutions. As a result, she was well equipped to provide additional insight on embracing opportunities and challenges posed by AI and how to adapt accordingly.

Brooke Howard-Smith: CEO of Otterfish

Brooke Howard-Smith explored the transition into the Exponential Age, from the Information Era. This transition combines various technological innovations simultaneously, such as Large Language Models (LLMs), Multimodal LLMs (MLLMs), Extended Reality (XR), and AI & blockchain gaming.


  • LLMs can create content such as text and images e.g. through ChatGPT.
  • They might not replace human creativity, but they will speed processes up.
  • LLMs are more intelligent than anticipated, with chatbots continually improving their abilities.
  • They can analyse large amounts of data, such as marketing insights.


  • These are more technologically developed versions of LLMs, as they recognise and create images, audio, and video.
  • MLLMs will cause a rapid shift in how images and audio are interacted with, similar to the significance of the transition from radio to film.
  • Through dynamic ad creation, MLLMs are reactive to the consumers you are marketing towards.
  • MLLMs are also interactive by adjusting content in real time while understanding and contextualising patterns.


  • XR currently replaces TVs and is expected to replace computers.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) is combined into XR, making the technology part of our world.
  • XR provides technological opportunities for marketers to use in creating engaging and involving brand experiences for customers.

AI & blockchain gaming:

  • Game developers can create AI-powered characters designed to adapt and improve their gameplay skills over time.
  • These AI-powered characters can learn from each other.
  • Blockchain technology creates space for more control through digital ownership, allowing game developers to own and trade their assets.

Overall, Brooke believes that much of the next era will be achievable due to AI, which will make everything we know abundant. Therefore, marketers must learn how to cope with saturation while navigating abundance.

John Waltmann: Industry Manager at Google NZ

John live-streamed into the event, discussing how AI-powered technology has progressed. He explained that AI will soon become integrated within Google campaigns as they are made. AI can boost creativity, performance, and growth by simplifying complexity for people, communities, and businesses.


  • AI has already worked in the background, simplifying things for people for several years.
  • It does this by supercharging the Google search experience; AI does the heavy lifting of the search results data.
  • As a result, AI can give retailers confidence they are reaching the right consumers at the right time.


  • AI technology can radically improve the quality of life, which it is already starting to do.
  • For example, with the help of AI, initiatives have been made to aid the blind and visually impaired in exploring the world.


  • AI changes how business is done.
  • It can enhance shopping experiences while providing cross-functional and cloud opportunities.
  • AI can be used to monitor inventory levels while also simplifying buying and merchandising processes.
  • AI can also help drive ROI in the messy middle, the contemporary customer shopping experience consisting of ongoing evaluation and research phases.

Overall, John expressed that marketers are not competing against AI. They are competing against other marketers who are already using AI. Marketers still have a central role in realising and utilising AI’s potential, as AI’s algorithms are designed to learn and predict based on its inputs. Therefore, the quality of inputs is important to leverage against competitors already using AI.

Gareth O’Connor: Managing Director of Harvey Cameron

Gareth considered if AI will change marketing as we know it, as the marketing industry is obsessed with change. Key conclusions from Gareth’s perspective came back to the marketing fundamentals, the sea of sameness, and AI’s future role in marketing.

The marketing fundamentals:

  • Brands fund technological change and technological change creates behaviour change.
  • Despite these technological shifts, marketing fundamentally comes back to the four Ps.
  • Once you understand product, price, and place, central to promotion is creating future demand by priming future buyers.
  • The role of brand equity in driving purchase decisions is as crucial as ever.
  • Therefore, despite the power of AI, the strength of brands still lies in the minds of consumers.

The sea of sameness:

  • A concern in this contemporary era is that everything is the same, with advertising typically occurring within a saturated sea of sameness.
  • Therefore, who stands out? Considering the memory business marketers are operating in, marketers need to make it easy for consumers to remember their brand.
  • Marketers can capture memorability by driving likeability because when consumers like a brand, it makes it easier for them to buy it.

The future of AI and marketing:

  • Deep learning AI can anticipate needs, interests, and desires.
  • Gareth expects that in the next 5-10 years, AI will start making the majority of purchase decisions on behalf of consumers.
  • The role of the brand will be important in these decisions, as the consumer’s human influence and loyalties guide AI’s decisions.
  • Therefore, marketers need to invest in building a connection between the brand and consumers.
  • In this process, AI can help marketers understand the customer and their needs, the competition, cultural influences on behaviour, and purchasing decisions.

Overall, Gareth expressed that AI provides technology tools that can leverage marketing. However, human curiosity, creativity, and ingenuity must be embraced, allowing marketers to stand out among the averageness and create a point of difference.


AI is a revolutionary tool that can aid marketers in content creation and complexity reduction while enhancing growth, marketing insights, and consumer understanding. Across the board, the guest speakers emphasised the importance of the brand building. Consequently, as AI continues to be adopted, human critical thinking and creativity skills are vital inputs to the success of marketing. Overall, AI advancements do not need to be feared. Instead, AI provides revolutionary technological capabilities and opportunities.

Written by
Jayde Newbury
Third-year Marketing and Communications Student at the University of Canterbury