Stacy Martinet

VP Marketing Strategy & Chief Communications Officer
"The brands that are digital-first will win."
As Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Communications at Adobe, Stacy Martinet leads a global team responsible for driving awareness, demand and engagement for the company’s brands and technology. Stacy talks about the art of creativity and storytelling, and whether AI is changing everything we know about arts and crafts.
One of Adobe's rallying cries is: Creativity for All. What does that mean?
‘We believe everyone has a story to tell. We're all born with ideas. We all want to express ourselves. Given the right tools, we all have the ability to do that more easily. And we're only just getting started. Products like Adobe Express, and how AI will play into this, will give more people the tools to express their ideas. We have tools for creative professionals who require the power of precision, but we also offer -increasingly - easy, quick, and fun ways for anyone who wants to communicate to someone. AI will augment creativity, not replace it.’

How do you define creativity in this context of democratization?
‘There are the amazing designs by people who spend their whole life honing their craft. But there's also room for folks who just want to tell a story or market their small business, make better PowerPoints or pdf’s, or those who just have an idea they want to share. Anyone today can access digital tools and communicate on social platforms, that is the democratization of creativity. We’re in a world of visual communications and we want to make that easier. That is the democratization of creativity.’
What's your advice for marketers to get their message across, with the abundance of content already out there?
‘I'm thinking a lot about story-led marketing. Customers expect personalization and digital has enabled that. If all experiences need to be personalized, then a tremendous amount of content needs to be created. But in order to connect and engage with customers, you have to go to the marketing basics: what's the story that you're trying to tell? Nowadays, you have to bring that to life in a million different ways - in real time. So, you have to stay true to your product value and bring your brand into it. You have to do that through all sorts of stories in different formats, increasingly through video.’
Can you describe how that’s done?
‘You’ve got to be fast and you need a content supply chain. Your content needs to be organized in a way that's accessible across teams. This way, if something's working, you can use it again. You have to be able to see the production flow, because it's now a 24/7 production cycle. This is where AI can really become the co-pilot. It can make creating content easier from the ideation. For instance, with our generative AI foundation model Adobe Firefly, you can type in a prompt and it will create an image.’

This makes the design process far more efficient, right?
‘Yes, generative AI is the next frontier of AI. We've been doing artificial intelligence for over a decade now. It’s been in Adobe's tools for a long time; whether that's Neural Filters in Photoshop, Liquid Mode in Acrobat or Customer Journey Analytics in Adobe Experience Cloud. They all make for a more efficient process, so people can spend more time on the ideation and the insights, and speed up that content supply chain.’
Is personalization the same as relevance or is it something different?
‘They're very closely related. What is relevant to you is what's personal to you. We all have different experiences, interests, and needs when we log on. Relevance itself is personal. Take Prada, one of our customers. They’ve been in luxury for over a hundred years. I'm interested in bags; you might be interested in boots. They have the ability to personalize and create content, and then share it in a way that's relevant to me versus you. It's not always about what's trending; it's more about how a brand shows up with what the customers could be expecting, and how they can surprise and delight us.’
What advice can you give marketers who want to reach their audience using these new AI tools?
‘First, focus on the digital tools that are going to empower you to do that. Lay the foundation of your customer experience architecture or infrastructure. The digital-first brands will win. This is a transformation, it takes time. In order to do it well, you need to have those building blocks. And you need a Customer Data Platform to have your insights connected more closely to your content. Make sure that your website and apps are best in class; those are your storefronts. They're owned media. And increasingly, brands are content creators so your own media is the place you want people to come. And if you're transacting, whether it’s e-commerce or B2B, that's where you want to be having the conversations. That's where you want people learning, engaging.’

You’ve launched all the latest software candy. What are the main lessons?
‘Product-led growth and marketing-led growth are coming together, especially for digital. So, your marketing can't be totally separate from your product. When you get people into the product, you want it to be a cohesive experience. For our launch of Firefly and Adobe Sensei Generative AI services, we spend a lot of time on our overall technology strategy and how we want to communicate that. We wanted to bring our customers, whether they're creators or marketers on a digital experience team, into this launch and bring them on the journey. It was co-creation, basically. It had to be a ‘social community first’ launch on our owned and earned. We wanted to be very clear on our website about what we're saying. We made sure our messages were pulling through in the press. And let's bring the technology to life through our social channels, but using members of our community to co-create with us. That was the approach.’
Would you choose profit over growth?
‘I’d choose profitable growth. From a market standpoint, the companies that are being rewarded right now are the ones that grow with profitability. If you can focus on laying this digital foundation and grow through your customer experience management, you're going to grow. But you must have relationships with your customers and also retain customers. Shareholders today are not just looking for growth, they’re looking for stability and long-term profitability.’
Tell us about this new wave in marketing of story-led growth.
‘Story-led is about the overall story you're trying to communicate and how you bring it to life in a million different ways and in tiny chapters. It’s very different than: here’s a campaign brief for the next year. You're telling stories every single day across different formats, across your website, your social, and through the key messages you're trying to place with the press. You think about that holistically and what the key messages are. And then you break them apart into different aspects, for it to make sense on each channel. Social-first is breaking down this notion that you can just publish on social media platforms and say: we're social. What it's actually about is making the content so that people want to socialize about it. Making it engaging, relevant. The platforms have created a way for us to tell stories, but the marketers have to make the content social.’

Can you give an example?
‘I love what we did with Photoshop: remove your ex from a photo. Now that's something people will talk about at a party or online. So, we want to tap into more of that as opposed to just publishing content on social and hoping it goes viral. You need to tap into the essence of what your customers think and appreciate about your brand. Bring your product to life through different stories that are relevant to each person.’

What are the characteristics of a great storyteller?
‘Knowing your audience, what are you trying to communicate and how do you want to do it? And increasingly: when you want to do it. The timeliness of your message is also important.’

Looking into the future, will linear TV go down?
‘There are still moments where linear TV really resonates, such as sports, some news and live events, and that will continue to be the case. Those are social events where people are together and it's a shared experience. But the rest of it is personalized. These streaming services are about what – and when - do you want to watch? And that's where all of marketing is going. TV's a great barometer for that shift. A lot of streaming services in the US are experimenting with advertising. I love this quote from New York Times media columnist David Carr: Change happens very slowly and then all at once.’
How do you approach global marketing, considering all the cultural differences, market nuances, and localization requirements?
‘It is tough because we absolutely want to create marketing that is localized. We've got an incredible team in EMEA and APAC. One of the things that they constantly remind me of is that it's not really about region, it's about culturalization. What resonates in Amsterdam is very different than what resonates in France. So, we have to create programs or stories that are global and give our colleagues, our agency partners and the market the ability to culturalize them.’

So, you need local insights?
‘Absolutely. And what I love most is the local insights that can inspire an even bigger global program, because some insights are shared. They might start someplace, but they could become a global phenomenon. I really love that.’

Has storytelling become a science, rather than an art?
‘No, we now have more data than we ever had before. But without the insights, you just have a lot of data. And the insights actually make the art better; they are giving you not just constraints, they're pointing you in a direction of where the art can be more inspiring or empowering to customers. I don't think the art ever goes away. It's the art that makes it stand out. It's just that the art's happening so fast.’

During which previous job did you learn the most about marketing?
‘In Mashable we were building a digital media brand from the ground up through social. As Mashable was a publisher, I also learned what content resonates online; which themes and formats, and how people would respond. Mashable founder Pete Cashmore is one of the most brilliant marketers I've ever met. He understood the power of design and aesthetic and how to bring it into internet culture. We did some things right; we did some of them wrong. But it was fun and I really learned about the power of paid, owned, and earned.’
What would help marketers be more creative?
‘Marketers could be three times more creative if they had more efficient collaboration workflows. We live in this hybrid world of technology where we're using so many different tools, and our review processes are a bit clunky. AI will really help save us so much time, for instance by finding files or reviewing and sharing comments. That may not be the most exciting aspect of AI, but it’s really critical to make our work more effective.’

What do you love most in your job?
‘I learn something new every day. I'm innately curious, I started my career in journalism at the New York Times. Adobe is a wonderful company for solving a lot of really interesting problems for marketers, communicators and creators. I really believe in the company's mission. And when you have all these really smart and talented people, you can create all sorts of amazing things together.’

What's your advice to younger marketers listening to CMOtalk?
‘Every experience is an experience. Everything that you do, every job, no matter what it is, over the course of your career, it builds on itself. You don't realize it at the time, but you really do take pieces of that into the next chapter, and somehow, they prepare you for that. So, try and get as much as you can out of each experience.’
About Stacy Martinet
Stacy Martinet is Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Communications at Adobe. A seasoned marketing executive with over 20 years of experience, she has held leadership roles at companies such as The New York Times and Mashable, where she oversaw brand strategy, content marketing, social media, and digital innovation. At Adobe, Stacy leads a global team responsible for driving awareness demands and engagement for Adobe's brands and technology. In addition, she's a board member of the Ad Council and the Adobe Foundation.

About Adobe
Adobe Inc. is an American multinational computer software company, founded in 1982. Its revenue in 2022 was US$17.6 billion. Its best-known products are Photoshop and Acrobat. With an extensive software suite, Adobe plays a central role in the marketing and creative community. Adobe just launched innovative AI plugins for creative images and video with Firefly and Adobe Express.
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