The last fortnight landed a solid blow for any luddites in the creative industry.
The release of Lensa’s ‘Magic Avatars’ capability and Open AI’s Chat GPT demonstrated how close Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to producing passable creative content. Chat GPT – a new generation chatbot – is outputting near-professional standard copy for uses like press releases. Meanwhile, the Lensa app’s upgrade creates stylised digital portraits from a series of selfie-like images uploaded by users.
The ability of these technologies to mimic the output of humans is predicated on data. Each has been trained on an unfathomable amount of online information, which – in conjunction with instructions from creators – allows them to generate something at once familiar and seemingly original.
The challenge for the advertising industry is that the nexus between recognisability and originality is also often where the most effective create concepts are located.
But for Georgia Ion – Integrated Strategist at KWPX – there is more to delivering truly effective creative than combining reference material and information about consumers and industry in the way an AI technology might.
“In the social media world, insight means something different from what it used to mean in advertising and in the world more broadly,” she says. “We want it to mean having deep understanding, but in tech it just means a data point. On Facebook, the insight tools do not generate insights, they generate numbers.
“My role is to dig for insight - I do a lot of research, but it takes human empathy to turn it into something actionable.”
This gap where (so far) inimitable human capabilities like empathy are most important means data is crucial in the creative process, but not across its entire spectrum.
Cul-de-sac Creative Director Marco Cicchianni says data plays its most valuable role when he is scoping a problem or brief.
"From my perspective, conventional market research data can sometimes help define or clarify creative or strategic solutions or outcomes,” he says.
"When it comes to data via AI to assist in developing creative content, I’ve always been side-tracked or had too many paths to take! This could be generational, as my creative process is embedded in intuitive design thinking.”
Georgia sees its benefits at the extreme ends of the process too – in scoping, as Marco suggests, and also in evaluating whether the ideas and thinking underpinning them are sound.
By using data to evaluate how assumptions made during the production process are playing out in-market, she believes there’s an opportunity to make the voice of the advertising industry more inclusive.
“I think there’s still an element of us being mostly a couple of types of people in advertising – people that think a certain way – and the customer is not necessarily that type of person,” she says. “If we keep doing the same thing we’re only going to be advertising to advertisers.
“When you’re looking at data to help inform creative… the real golden nugget is the things that challenge the way you see the world. And if you dig into it and ask why and why and why, that’s where you find the real gold.”
AI technology, it turns out, tends to agree. When Chat GPT was asked if AI technology is suited to creating brand strategies, its answer could be paraphrased as an ambivalent 'not really'.
“While AI technology can be useful in many aspects of business, I think it is best suited to support, rather than replace, human creativity and expertise when it comes to creating brand strategies,” says the chatbot.
“AI can be used to analyse data and provide insights that can help inform brand strategy, but ultimately, it takes human ingenuity and empathy to develop a unique and compelling brand identity that resonates with customers.”