Purpose and technology: “two massive forces that are changing travel dramatically”

David Jones, former CEO of advertising agency Havas and the founder of You & Mr Jones: “It’s a new world in which technology, purpose and activism are changing the rules of marketing.”

An interview with David Jones, former CEO of advertising agency Havas and the founder of You & Mr Jones, a tech holding company specialised in brand communication. By Ross Falconer

Brandtech is a belief that, thanks to technology, it is now possible to do all marketing better, faster and cheaper. The smartphone has created a tectonic disruption in the marketing world – totally changing how and where people consume content, creating a huge need for new types and formats of content for all of the new channels and platforms. It also enables every person to be a content creator, as well as generating unprecedented levels of data.

“The term brandtech encompasses how brands can build capabilities in technology that respond to the different demands of the digital age,” explains David Jones, former CEO of advertising agency Havas and the founder of You & Mr Jones, a tech holding company specialised in brand communication. “People take in content in so many different ways, and brands have to know how to build content that is short, that is long, that is vertical, that is text, that is video, that is emoji, that is AR and that, above all, lives on mobile. Technology not only means that you now need to produce all of this new content, but it has also provided the means for you to do it at a fraction of the cost of old-fashioned legacy methods. And then to leverage all of the data – GDPR compliant of course – to make it more effective.”

In addition, it’s provided an entire new resource to create this content. Brands used to be defined by what brands said to people, but today they are defined by what people say to people. “We are passionate believers in ‘people-powered marketing’ – tapping into the over one billion people who can now, armed with just their phone, create, produce and share content that’s as good as – and much more authentic – than that generated by the so-called professionals,” says Jones.

Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality “will change everything”

New and emerging technologies are going to have a big impact on branding. “I don’t think we fully understand yet the extent to which both Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality are going to have a dramatic impact, not just on marketing and branding but on business and even the internet,” Jones comments. “They will change everything from content creation and distribution, to customer service, to entire business models.”

AR will mean that every single place, product, object, destination or experience can be augmented through technology, while AI will mean that all content will be intelligent.

“All brands will have connected data/media/content in real-time,” Jones adds. “AI will also enhance people’s ability to carry out their jobs and dramatically improve customer interaction. I think in the next five years we are going to see more change and disruption than we have in the last 10 years.”

Meanwhile, at a time of increasing concerns over the environment, businesses have an important role to play in helping ensure a sustainable future.

“We often say that brands need to move from ‘marketing to consumers’ to ‘mattering to people’, and I think this phrase is a very good barometer to use when looking at how to help ensure a more sustainable future,” says Jones. “For a long time, brands were reluctant to get involved in social issues. Then, more recently, brands started thinking that they had to stand for something beyond simply profit, to have a purpose.”

Indeed, it is increasingly clear that people want brands to take a stand for something. Jones concludes that this matters more and more, especially to young people.

“We’re seeing brands move from purpose to actual activism. People expect more than good citizenship, they expect commitment, like Patagonia did for climate change, or Nike did with Colin Kaepernick, or TOMS for anti-gun violence. It’s a new world in which technology, purpose and activism are changing the rules of marketing.”

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