The Marketing Society Annual Lecture Credit Baz Seal

A force for good, a sea of inspiration

A review of The Annual Lecture 2024

Caroline Parkes, Chief Strategy Officer at RAPP UK reviews The Marketing Society Annual Lecture 2024, her first event as a member:

How many conversations have you had recently about efficiency? How AI can fuel it? How AI is the key to mass personalisation at scale. A lot. Because it can. 

But how many conversations have you had about how AI can fuel creativity and innovation, and help us break out of boxes? The Marketing Society 2024 Annual Lecture fuelled its audience with a pioneering spirit, to think differently. Matt Brittin, from Google EMEA opened up our eyes (and hearts) to the possibilities of AI for good. And for creativity. 

Held at the architecturally uplifting Royal College of Physicians, a building designed to be radical and rebellious, it brought together over 260 marketeers the day after Earth Day, to think about how to make the world a better place. 

Sam Tomlinson partner and media lead at PwC encouraged the participants to “think value not cost” which in a world increasingly focused on efficiencies, was refreshing coming from someone from consultancy.

Sophie Devonshire encouraged us to take the opportunity to meet new people, saying “it’s not just about who’s on stage but who’s in the room.”

But of course, it was very much about who was on stage, and Matt Brittin had us at hello with his opening slide “For everyone, putting AI to work for good.” Matt’s belief is that “the opportunity for us is to be more human through technology.” He gave us some examples:

  • Google translates 150 billion words a day, and the three most popular phrases? ‘How are you’, ‘Thank you’, ‘I love you’. AI enables human connections. 
  • 1 in 7 women in the UK will be affected by breast cancer. My sister died of it in 2022, partly due to a lack of human intelligence. AI has created a way to read visuals or mammograms in a way that human eyes take years to train. Speeding up diagnosis and saving lives. AI maintains human connections. 
  • Pollution is higher at traffic intersections. AI can change the sequencing of traffic lights, to reduce emissions. AI creates a better environment for humans. 
  • AI can help people who are less educated to “write like a genius.” AI accelerates social mobility. 

My verdict. A force for good, a sea of inspiration, a perfect venue, and a great start to my membership. 

My only regret. I didn’t get a chance to ask my question (too many hands and serves me right for, unusually, wearing black), which is about digital sustainability. 

In the week of World Earth Day, where we’re told that every Google search takes as much energy as boiling a kettle, and digital emissions have overtaken the aviation industry, what is Google doing to reduce its emissions, what can we as marketeers do, and how can we employ AI to protect the Earth for future generations?

This was my first The Marketing Society event as a member, just 3 days into my membership I found myself writing a review of the Annual Lecture! Let me know what you think of my article in the Coffeehouse and maybe we can say hi in real life next time there’s a gathering. 



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