Megan Cunningham is CEO and Founder of Magnet Media, a global brand content studio. Prior to founding Magnet Media, Megan worked in production at PBS, HBO, and Nickelodeon. Magnet has been very successful over the years; its clients have included big brands such as Apple, Microsoft, Google, ABC, Showtime, The Associated Press, Dreamworks Animation, NBC, and other top-tier brands.
Megan and I were both at the Cannes Lion Festival, where creativity in advertising and marketing is consistently stressed, and I wanted to get her take on how Cannes is presenting the issue of creativity in the age of AI. As she notes, “One theme that through a lot of the different events and topics and sessions was the idea that great creative delivers on marketing objectives more effectively, and therefore actually makes your media campaigns, whether they’re paid media or earn media, more efficient, right, and actually more impactful.”
We chat about Magnet Media’s origin story, how “run-of-the-mill” creative can be distinguished from strategic, results-driven creative, and the key role played by market data in terms of fashioning effective creative campaigns. We discuss how brands should think about allocating funds for creative campaigns, and the folly of under-investing in great creative (which makes campaigns more efficient) while over-investing in media spend supporting that creative.
We trade notes on brands using influencers in their campaigns, and the degree to which such campaigns need to be scripted or left open-ended. As Megan notes, “I think that the idea of having a (creative) brief but one that is subject to be interpreted by the influencer, in their own voice, and with what they know and works for their audience and their channel, is the best way to approach an influencer campaign.” We also touch on the issue of whether authors of short-form creative content can easily make the transition to creating long-form content.
Megan and I discuss the extent to which social media platforms have, unlike the old Hollywood or music business models, produced a meritocratic system where the best creative is rewarded. As she notes, some of the most successful influencers have established relationships with the platform owners, giving them an “embedded advantage” that most creators lack.
We talk about the wisdom of brands cutting back top-funnel spending in the face of a potential recession (which may or may not ever manifest itself). As Megan observes, “I don’t think it’s healthy for any business to just say, we’re going to pull the plug on stuff, we’re going to hit the brakes. To me, that’s a big red flag for that business in general, because it really is an invitation for your competition to speed way ahead of you.”
Megan sees a lot of potential for there to be a creative renaissance in the next several years, driven by AI and increasingly innovative immersive experiences. As she notes, “I don’t think we’ve seen anything that even begins to scratch the surface of what’s possible.”