Should creative agencies be adopting AI?

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), one question seems to be on the lips of creatives: is it a useful tool that will make our lives easier, or is it Frankenstein’s Monster for the modern age with a hankering for our jobs?

AI is all the rage at the moment, with companies and individuals producing and adopting AI programmes at an astonishing rate. Whether it’s used in writing, design, or marketing strategy, there are clear productivity boosts associated with its use by creative agencies. However, calls for government regulation based on issues of morality have spurred debate.

What’s in AI’s creative toolbox?

As of 2023, AI is being deployed across the creative industries, including in marketing and advertising, with some writers adopting ChatGPT to help them with content creation. The software can instantly write responses to whatever you ask it based on information it’s “learnt” from the internet (up to September 2021 on ChatGPT 3.5). Copywriters are beginning to use it to help generate headlines, taglines, brand/product names and key messages based on the input of a few keywords. This could prove useful if writer’s block strikes, with AI providing a much-needed springboard into a pool of fresh ideas.

Designers have programmes such as Adobe Firefly and Midjourney at their disposal, which offer up a wide range of design tools including the ability to generate images from text, apply text effects or textures with simple prompts, turn sketches into images, and more. AI can assist designers by accelerating their work processes and taking on more of the legwork, enabling them to prioritise other creative tasks.

There’s a whole host of AI tools for marketers, including Jasper AI which can write content in a business’ tone of voice based on information it’s fed. With a list of products/services, brand messaging and target audiences, it can generate bespoke marketing content. In theory, this could save marketers time, enabling them to reinvest it in other areas which will boost productivity – but at what cost?

An ode to human ingenuity

However, AI tools have clear weaknesses. For writing programmes like ChatGPT, the information is stripped directly from the internet. This means the output cannot be wholly original, may be subject to bias, or could just be entirely false. For both design and writing, AI is currently incapable of original thought, so it can’t truly work on concepts or campaigns for new businesses, products or services. For that, humans are still king.

Humans understand humans. AI currently lacks emotional intelligence, unable to pick up on the emotional intricacies that so often lead to successful advertising. Remember P&G’s “Thank You, Mom” advert that ran with the 2012 London Olympics? This ad is pure human emotion, created by humans to speak to humans. On the other hand, scripts written by AI can often seem like an alien caricature of humanness. You can ask it to write a romcom script in the style of Richard Curtis, and though all the parts are there, there’s something very “uncanny valley” about it. These scriptwriting concerns sparked recent strikes in Hollywood. Front and centre of the strikes staged by the SAG-AFTRA and the WGA was the fear of AI replacing human creativity in acting and writing jobs.

Though AI can prove a useful tool – saving us time and enabling resource to be reallocated – creatives are rightly concerned about its advancement. Despite these fears, AI and humans can exist symbiotically, though we must remember who is the master and who is the servant.  At Harleys, we think AI is fascinating, but our human-focused approach is key to us creating powerful, game-changing brand communications and marketing campaigns. We embrace the evolution of technology, staying ahead of the curve to give our clients the latest and greatest our industry has to offer, but it’s the creative brains of our brilliant individuals that make us tick.

So, if you’d like to work with some creative humans, get in touch today to see how we can bring your brand’s vision to life.

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