Chasing intentionality to focus and transform your comms practice

Dentsu’s Asha Gopalan Ramirez on what’s ahead for creative agencies and beyond.

Focus and intentionality: A glass sphere clarifies but upends a city skyline.

Asha Gopalan RamirezBecause they are responsible for delivering on and measuring global-scale reach and results, advertising and marketing agencies benefit from a uniquely comprehensive view into the inner workings of both clients and their audiences.

Asha Gopalan Ramirez is the Americas lead for the Corporate Marketing and Communications practice at advertising and creative agency dentsu and a member of Ragan’s Comms Week advisory board.

The agency, which has more than 71,000 employees around the world, serves clients including Mondelēz, Cadillac, American Express and 7 Eleven with its titanic marketing muscle. The organization’s communications leads are responsible for not only connecting that global workforce, but also conveying the immense creativity and strategic aptitude that flows into advertisements, celebrity partnerships, social media content, PR campaigns and on-stage appearances for both executives and clients.

Ramirez spoke with Ragan about the state of creativity in her sector and how communicators can think about the future of their discipline across industries.

Ragan: What changes and challenges are top of mind for you as you plan for the rest of this year and next?

Asha Ramirez: Employee well-being has plunged from ~50% in 2020 to 21% this year (Source: Gallup). Thriving employees create a thriving business — and ultimately, a thriving economy. Top of mind for me is how I continue to keep my team engaged so that we close the year strong.

We’re halfway through the year and diving into a heightened political environment, most companies are dealing with “tired legs” with still a long race to run. The second half of the year requires focus and discipline to drive growth through the final quarter, and at the same time, open time and a culture of inspiration to start planning new and refreshing ideas for the year ahead. That’s not easy to balance.

How do you anticipate AI changing or impacting your role (e.g., policy updates, L&D, talent acquisition/needs, executive comms, etc.)?

AR: AI is giving us a chance to look at the world with wonder again. Since 2020 we’ve all been inundated with a series of crises and troubling headlines, and AI gives us a chance to finally stop fighting fires and instead, think about new possibilities (there’s still some brush clearing that is inevitable).

We’re listening and learning vs. just executing and delivering. From a talent standpoint, we’re thinking about how AI will be a complement to our workforce. From a digital perspective, we’re assessing new tools and solutions that can enhance our martech stack. We’re also having some fun with it.

How has it already altered the way dentsu operates and leaders think?

AR: There’s a false belief that the market will reward “the best.” In reality, the market rewards differently. We’re actively working on how we’ll leverage AI to differentiate from every other brand. We’re deconstructing aspects of our business that are ripe for innovation and looking for ways to infuse AI.

Within our own comms function, the time that we spent writing business-as-usual scripts, social captions, comms packs, etc. has been redirected to the stuff that we love doing: writing strategy, writing stories, spending time with clients, etc.

What other factors from the larger industry will communicators in the creative and marketing spaces have to contend with in the coming years? How are you preparing?

AR: If everyone’s chasing growth, who’s chasing intentionality? I was drawn to communications and marketing because in a world that is so noisy, we have the ability to create meaningful communications, be more thoughtful in how we communicate, whom we choose to communicate with, etc.

Over the past few years, in pursuit of growth and quantity, we’ve lost our way. Everything needs a supporting blog, caption, podcast, email newsletter, etc. The atomization of content and the innumerable social channels that wield power over us has us creating so much stuff. This maximalist mentality ironically takes away from what the intention of our function always was: to create with intention.

What are you most excited about in your role for the coming year or so?

AR: I think we as a society will chase the desire to be more thoughtful, intentional and meaningful. The growing “quiet trend” (quiet hair salons, car rides, dining) proves that people just want to hold close what matters and block out the noise. I hope to embrace this trend to bring comms and marketing back to intentionality — not just growth.

Learn more during Ragan’s Communications Week, Nov. 12-15, 2024.

Jess Zafarris is director of content at Ragan Communications and an author, editor, creator and game maker.

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