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Opinion: Creativity Still Rules in the AI World (For Now)

In the rush to embrace AI, let is not forget the importance of brands holding on to their creative point of difference. Without one, brands will become bland in a deadly race to the bottom, writes Rob Frew.

Picture this. You’re eight years old and standing against a wall hoping not to be the last picked for a game of football. Your palms are sweaty, your little heart pangs with anxiety. Or you’re thirty two and with a mixture of dread, and a hint of relief you
know, ‘it’s time’. Your partner grabs the bag you’ve spent weeks packing. The maternity ward beckons. Now you’re fifty seven, and you’re happily heavily breathing as you walk up the steep steps to your seat at an All-Ireland final. You push down your plastic seat and roar until your throat decides, no more.

These are real everyday human stories, and there’s no artificial intelligence (AI) out there that can fully understand the emotions in any of these scenarios. It’s a technology that first flirted with us by producing typo-free copy with a simple prompt. Then it tickled us with its ability to construct an image from a few words. Now it’s seducing us again with video footage created from thin air. Its rate of development is truly impressive. It appears that AI will, in time, have no boundaries. Ready to redefine not just the way we work, but what we will define as work.

So, what does a bold statement like this mean for the advertising industry as we know it? Put simply, in a very short window of time, anything that can be automated, will be. Already a person can brief an AI platform, only to receive a selection of ads
seconds later. Some of which will resonate with their audience, and others that won’t. And the AI platform will learn from this, so  he next batch of ads produced will perform better than the last. And so on, and so on.

AI will level the playing field so even a small business with limited resources, will have access to the same creative platforms of large multinationals. And everything will look lovely. And everything will look, well, the same. And it is in this world of AI generated wallpaper, that it will never be more important for brands to have a creative point of difference. Without one, brands will be stuck in a race to the bottom. Creativity will be key to standing out amongst the crowd. Crafting ads that provoke reaction, stop a viewer, and leave them with a smile. But rather than it being a case of human versus AI, instead we can use the AI tools at our disposal to help realise our ideas, easier and faster than ever before. Bringing together our knowledge of cultural nuances, that no AI engine would ever understand. Like the rhythms of the various Irish dialects or the Irish love for the underdog. Or, why Colm Meaney is soexcited when he says, he better brush his teeth.

And sure, AI has got its issues. Some of the platforms currently available haven’t been ethically trained. It currently struggles to render images of fingers and hands. And, the eyes of the characters generated, can be genuinely scary, but it’s a technology that’s only learning to crawl. It’ll be walking verysoon. The AI genie iswell and truly out of the bottle, and it’s not going  back.

For now, AI might read an X-ray, file a tax return or identify trends in the stock marketbetter than any human can. But, it still doesn’t know that the best cure for homesickness is a cup of your favourite tea, or that all a tin man really wants for Christmas is a heart. For now, at least.

Rob Frew is creative director with OLIVER Ireland.

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