Top Marketers Explain How Emerging Tech Will Transform Their Industries

Blockchain, AI and AR have their attention

Execs at Brandweek discussed game-changing technologies, from AI and blockchain to 5G and augmented reality. - Credit by iStock
Headshot of Katie Richards

Year-to-year, week-to-week, even day-to-day technology can change. For CMOs and other brand executives, staying on top of emerging technologies and understanding new business paradigms is essential for growth and survival. At the inaugural Brandweek gathering, hosted by Adweek last week in Palm Springs, Calif., executives discussed these game-changing technologies—from AI and blockchain to 5G and augmented reality—and how their brands are embracing digital transformation.

Babs Rangaiah, IBM iX’s executive partner, global marketing, explained how blockchain can be more than crypto currency used by Bitcoin. Rangaiah noted blockchain is “a distributed ledger that provides you with an end-to-end digital record of any transaction.” So a brand like Walmart can build a blockchain to track pork in China, from breeding to when the meat is packaged and sent to stores. The ledger could improve food safety by allowing a company to pinpoint the source of contamination and allow it to recall specific products. Or, it could create full transparency in the media buying space for brands. The possibilities for blockchain, Rangaiah explained, are endless.

Here’s what other brand marketers are thinking about.

Suzy DePrizio, head of consumer marketing, Canada, Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson is tackling voice search, how it will be monetized and the utility it can bring into the consumer experience. “We’re really trying to understand how consumers are using it and how as a brand can you become relevant and intercept at those right moments,” DePrizio said.

Cameron Purcell, manager of marketing communications, Beautyrest

Because Beautyrest doesn’t sell direct to consumer, the brand relies on retailers for customer information. As a result, Beautyrest is seeking new ways to capture that data. The brand wants consumers to register their product and share information, so it can “stay in touch with them over the eight- to 10-year lifespan of our product, which is really a struggle when you’re purchasing a product that infrequently,” Purcell said.

Marcelo Pascoa, global head of brand marketing, Burger King

Burger King is implementing technology to improve service for its customers. With convenience at a premium, the fast-food giant’s new app allows diners to order and pay through their phone. “Inside of the stores, we have self-ordering kiosks and those technologies—not that they are like blockchain or artificial intelligence or anything like that. We’re talking about technologies that can have a profound impact in how people experience our food and our brand,” Pascoa said.

Michelle Lee, editor in chief, Allure

After Snapchat pushed augmented reality forward with its lenses, Lee said she hasn’t seen much change in AR in the past year and a half. “A lot of those technologies are now moving into retail, which is really cool,” Lee said, predicting makeup brands will expand their use of AR. “There’s more room for AR to do something that feels more utility, more functional to the actual user.”

Nicholas Horbaczewski, founder and CEO, Drone Racing League

The growing league is creating an Artificial Intelligence Robotic Racing circuit that allows teams to configure AI drones that navigate a course at high speeds. “We are a technology company … [that will] drive innovation in a fun, sporting context,” Horbaczewski said.

Craig Sorensen, chief content officer, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals partnered with ecommerce companies to receive donations online, but the companies were worried about cart abandonment if shoppers had to move to a new screen to donate during checkout. To avoid that problem, the nonprofit organization worked with a company to move the donation process to after checkout. “You’ll go to, get a pop-up that localizes it and it’ll say, ‘We partnered with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Would you be willing to make a donation to Cohen Children’s Hospital?'” Sorensen said. “It tokenizes all that data from and it prefills it in so you don’t have to put your credit card in or your address in.”

Kristina Monllos, Sara Jerde and Ann-Marie Alcántara contributed reporting to this story. 

Join the foremost brand marketers, such as Marc Pritchard, Brad Hiranaga, Kory Marchisotto and more, for Brandweek Masters Live on Sept. 14-17. Secure your pass and learn from the brand masters.
This story first appeared in the October 1, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.