Goodwin Takes His Future To Zenith, Will Help Clients Shape Theirs

Publicis’ Zenith unit has long called itself the “ROI agency.” Now it’s investing in its future in the hope of generating future returns for its clients, hiring long-time media futurist Tom Goodwin as executive vice president-head of innovation.

In the newly created role, Goodwin will be responsible for working with technology companies, startups and media owners to develop “next-gen” media and advertising opportunities for Zenith’s clients.

Goodwin, who joins Zenith from Havas, where he was senior vice president-strategy and innovation, is a well-known thinker and agent of change. A long-time speaker and columnist, Goodwin is known for his pragmatic approach, tempering Madison Avenue’s seeming obsession with the next bright, shiny object with practical solutions that drive clients' business goals and results.



During an especially futuristic panel discussion on the role AI will play in so-called “conversational” marketing at OMMA Bots & Chat in New York last week, Goodwin was a voice of reason, warning against visions that AI, bots and platforms would ultimately automate consumer interactions with brands.

“Human beings need to speak to other human beings, especially if they are high-worth customers,” Goodwin said, reminding other panelists how much many consumers already hate interacting with the current generation of sales-assistant bots on commerce sites. He suggested that the future role of AI would be more in automating routine tasks and low-level interactions with brands, but actually elevating the role of human interaction between consumer and customer marketing and/or sales personnel.

“This is not new,” he explained. “It’s just good customer service. People inside a store know how to speak to customers. We are in a situation where people hate dealing with chat bots.”

Goodwin said AI and bots ultimately will play a meaningful role in marketing, but “more work needs to be done” before those solutions emerge. He cited an example of a consumer experiencing a plumbing problem in their home.

“If you’ve got water leaking in your house, you don’t want to play with a robot,” he said, adding: “The reality is, at the moment, there probably is no use case in which you can better serve people [with a bot]. For the moment, customers are far too important to risk pissing them off.”

Prior to joining Havas in January 2015, Goodwin ran consultancy Tomorrow Innovation, and before that he was director of partner development at Interpublic’s vaunted IPG Media Lab.

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1 comment about "Goodwin Takes His Future To Zenith, Will Help Clients Shape Theirs".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, October 3, 2016 at 12:39 p.m.

    Congratulations, Tom. This sounds like a very challenging assignment but a worthwhile one.

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