Rei Inamoto on machines replacing humans

AKQA's CCO predicts how brands can combat the digital divide.
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Advertising’s not for everyone. For some, it might just be a quick detour on their path to something else they’re more passionate about, which is what creative vet Rei Inamoto, CCO at AKQA in New York, had planned for himself when he first entered the field. Truthfully, he says, when asked for advice from young greenhorns looking to work in the biz, he’s likely to respond by simply saying, “Don’t get into advertising.”

Even so, Inamoto says he understands the truly important place advertising has in the world today, and how it’s morphing into something else completely, where the use of technology is removing friction between cultures, people and places, in order to help serve humanity. He also says that while many humans will inevitably be replaced by machines, and digital media is replacing physical interactions, he believes brands can counteract this by layering in an emotional human touch to what they put out into the world.

“Humans will be replaced by machines, but not humanity,” he tells strategy on camera, when we caught up with him in Cannes last week (watch the video below to hear more about his predictions and thoughts on advertising today).

Inamoto is a big believer in the role of young creative people and their ideas, so much so that he and his agency have been investing time and resources to provide young creative student thinkers with a platform to show their interpretations of what advertising is and can do for the world today.

For the past nine years, AKQA has run the “Future Lions” competition, where students from all walks of schooling, whether they’re studying mechanical engineering or advanced plumbing, are invited to submit an idea that shows how far the industry has come thanks to technology. The brief asks them to “connect an audience of your choosing to a product or service from a global brand in a way that wasn’t possible five years ago.” The five winning teams (out of 1,760 entries, of which more than 30 were Canadian) receive tickets to the Cannes Lions festival, where their idea is presented in front of a packed auditorium.

Here are the top five picks, which were presented at the festival this year:

IBM: Passion is Power

(Red): Donate by Update

Google Gesture

Ben & Jerry’s: Do Zero For Climate Change

Children’s Heart Foundation: HEARt Me