The meteoric rise of artificial intelligence coupled with ongoing economic uncertainty in the UK spells continued swings and shifts for the marketing industry in 2024. We recently surveyed CMOs, senior marketers, PR and comms professionals across all manner of industries on their future-focused priorities.  

To help us get to the ‘why’ behind these findings, we invited top marketing and comms minds to share their perspectives. Our panellists discussed the key takeaways, spanning artificial intelligence, human understanding, integration, and sustainability.  

Check out the insights from UNLIMITED’s Nikki McCulloch, Meta’s Isabelle Quevilly, Abigail Morris from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), and Dr Simon Collister from our Human Understanding Lab 


It won’t surprise anyone that AI was cited as a priority in our CMO Barometer survey. Equally, it dominated our panel discussion. While the consensus among our panellists was that they’re all still merely scratching the surface of the technology’s potential, its relationship to creativity arose as a key focus area.  

Interestingly, creativity was referenced as one of the key concerns in our survey findings, with 79% of respondents anxious about the impact that artificial intelligence is going to have on it. Despite this, our panellists were brimming with examples of how AI can be used to bolster and support creative departments.  

Director of Communications at DSIT, Abigail Morris, spoke about the ability to work with creative teams more effectively. One of the most frustrating experiences, she explained, is struggling to accurately convey your ideas in a brief. AI enables non-creatives to translate their vision better, helping clients and marketers communicate and collaborate much more efficiently with creative teams to get to the desired outputs quicker.  

The webinar discussion also explored the empowering aspects of AI when it comes to testing multiple creative territories at speed and at scale. Meta’s Director of Creative Shop for NEMEA and Sustainability Lead, Isabelle Quevilly, described that she’s been seeing a gradual shift in the role of the Creative Director.  

Rather than being the person who chooses and delivers a single creative territory, with the help of AI, the Creative Director is able to cheaply produce a large volume of different territories to test and learn from. The role then becomes that of a curator, using the constant AI feedback loop to select the most powerful and relevant options based on the data.  


Another theme that our panellists debated was the disconnect we found with using scientific insight to further marketers’ deeper understanding of the humans they’re trying to connect with in campaigns. 91% of survey respondents found data science and behavioural science useful when building campaign strategies, while 84% felt that way about neuroscience. However, there is a gap between what human understanding can achieve and how it’s currently being used, as the full power of these capabilities is not currently being maximised by brands.  

When asked about this perceived gap, Dr Simon Collister Director of UNLIMITED’s Human Understanding Lab, responded that one of the biggest myths associated with using scientific insight tools is cost. Speaking to all manner and size of brands, he’s often been confronted with the misconception that applying the sciences to marketing campaigns has to be wildly expensive.  

“It can be of course. We’ve worked with clients in the past using MRI scanners to understand people’s responses to certain stimuli. But equally, there are much quicker and more cost-effective ways of getting under the skin of how people feel and behave.” 

One example is neuroscientific implicit testing techniques. The Human Understanding Lab runs a bi-weekly survey of the UK population to gauge the pulse of the nation on a large variety of topics. Within that, we can measure the depth of emotional response for each answer. This is a great way of understanding how people react to creative or to messaging, revealing the real drivers of a purchasing category. For instance, we’ve seen participants cite their soft spot for a brand as a key driver, but diving into the subconscious conviction levels in their response revealed that cost was actually the bigger motivation.  

This type of work is something that the Human Understanding Lab can turn around in the matter of a few days without breaking the bank for brands. So, using neuroscience, data science, or behavioural science in campaigns doesn’t necessarily always have to amount to costly laboratory-based experiments. There are more efficient and direct routes to applying scientific insights to your marketing.  


80% of our CMO Barometer survey respondents told us they find it difficult to create true integration – whether internally (across systems, departments and tools), externally (between different agencies and suppliers), or across the customer journey. It appears that integration is still very much seen as a steep mountain to climb for brands.  

When discussed by our panellists, they nodded towards AI as a potential solution from a creative and messaging standpoint. Isabelle Quevilly talked about emerging AI-powered technologies that can be used to ensure uniformity in branding elements. These types of platforms can offer an aggregate view of all the messaging or creative that a brand outputs globally, quickly flagging anything that doesn’t align to guidelines or best practice.  

As integration between local and global teams is generally difficult to achieve, these AI-powered tools are a move in the right direction. Seeing as we live in a world that calls for more and more diversification of creative assets, there is a growing tension between business-wide consistency and enough variation and personalisation to target and connect with disparate markets.  


Having fallen down the priority scale from pole position to number four in our European CMO survey, sustainability appears to have taken a back seat this year. Despite this, our panellists all agreed that it continues to be a pervasive issue across every industry.  

As AI continues to dominate headlines and CEO agendas, Abigail Morris was keen to point out the impact that the technology will have in terms of brands’ sustainability credentials. It’s no secret that artificial intelligence is hugely energy-draining and uses up significant amounts of resources. Brands, therefore, need to be mindful of how to juggle both themes simultaneously. How is AI changing your business practice? And how will this impact on your carbon goals as a brand? 

“It’s not an either/or when it comes to prioritising sustainability. It’s going to bleed into all the trends we’ve discussed today, as well as all other areas of any business,” agreed Dr Simon Collister.  

Isabelle Quevilly added that a lot of sustainability roles in the UK are currently focused on compliance, disclosure, and regulation, while forgetting to consider their company leadership, and how their perceptions and behaviours need to shift. The change at the very top is the one that’s needed to push sustainability forward, and the one that our panellists would like to see more evidence of across the industry.  


More than ever before, the year ahead will be one of test and learn. While innovation and technology may again fuel buzz and marketing budgets, brand leaders shouldn’t forget the importance of purpose-driven initiatives like sustainability in 2024.  

If you’d like to get your hands on the full panel discussion, you can watch the webinar on demand here. You can also sign up here to get the full CMO Barometer 2024 report delivered straight to your inbox!  

Please feel free to reach out to discuss any of the above trends further. Drop us a line at and one of our experts will get back to you.