Is AI the Future of Creativity?

September 29, 2020 | blog | By Tina Tackett
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Much has been made lately about the varying roles artificial intelligence can/is/should be playing in the development of advertising and marketing; and rightfully so. Like it or not, we are living and working in the Age of Data and, whether your discipline is strategy, creative, media, or some other facet of branding, clients have huge expectations that you’re using big data to inform your decisions and make them better, smarter, and ultimately, more lucrative.

It’s clear, AI has the potential to make branding and creative work better. But despite all the indicators pointing to AI’s benefit, there is still a lot of apprehension about it — especially on the part of creative people. There’s concern AI will kill intuition. That it will slow down the work cycle, taking time out of an already shortened creative process. There’s worry AI will flat out replace us. The worries are understandable.

In April, I read an article in Forbes about the British company that developed the AI-powered copywriting tech called “Phrasee.” When asked what kind of copywriters the tech would put out of business, Phrasee CEO Parry Malm said this:

“Our vision at Phrasee is to empower brands with AI-powered copywriting, optimizing short-form marketing language. This includes email subject lines, headline copy and CTAs, push notifications, SMS and Facebook ad copy, and importantly leaves copywriters to focus their skills on long-form creative writing. AI-powered copywriting has been adopted by creative teams at some of the world’s biggest brands to optimize language at scale, freeing their time to focus on higher concept creative thinking and campaigns.”

Other than the secret novel, or screenplay every copywriter has hidden in the back of their desk drawer, I’m not sure what “long-form creative writing” Malm was referring to, but this paragraph causes anxiety in almost every writer I know. I understand the feeling.

We are most frightened by what we don’t understand and, for creative people nearly always operating in self-preservation mode, AI is certainly on the list of things that threaten us. I would also argue that fear may be unwarranted.

Instead of being concerned that AI will replace our work, it’s time to focus on the ways AI can enhance it. The greatest work has always been insight-driven and when leveraged to its fullest, AI has the ability to identify patterns and connections in a matter of seconds that we might never have seen on our own. It can predict trends and tendencies, movement and adaptation. With the world changing at warp speed, we need the assistance AI can provide to better reach consumers, and in ways we haven’t before. Better intel makes for a better strategy. A better strategy makes for better work.

Shift happens.

To paraphrase the Chinese curse, we are living in interesting times. Here’s a brief rundown: A pandemic that’s infected nearly seven million Americans and killed more than 200,000. Generational racial turmoil that’s literally and figuratively torn our country apart. Huge national elections in the midst of a toxic, volatile political climate. Hundreds of millions of people sheltering in place. Foreign interference. Social media endangering civilization. And the education system in complete turmoil. And that’s just the past six months.

A recent article from MarketingDive reported that the combination of COVID-19 and America’s racial unrest has caused 45% of consumers to change their brand preferences. That’s pretty much every other consumer. In that same time period, a McKinsey report suggested 75% of consumers have changed brand allegiance during the pandemic. That’s three people in four.

As art directors, writers, and designers, our job is to address human need and, at our best, to anticipate it.

Rather than questioning or fearing the role of AI, now is our time to embrace it. To push our branding teams to access more data, and to integrate their findings into the strategic process. To use the insights AI provides to explore new ideas, unexpected intersections, and intriguing connections that will grab customers’ attention.

As creatives, we need to lean into the validation and/or course correction AI can give us regarding how our creative work was received and whether it did what we intended it to do. That enlightenment is now part of the process. And when genuinely embraced, it makes us better.

Is AI the future of creativity? It will never be the whole future. But it’s definitely something that will play a big role in the work we create from here on out. AI is a tool. It’s not a replacement for intuition, or insight, or the magical “Aha” moment when everything clicks. But, when we can embrace it without fear, it can certainly make getting to that place a whole lot easier.

TINA TACKETT is executive creative director at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency and a top Dallas advertising agency for digital, social, mobile and user experience. For more about challenger branding, advertising and marketing, leadership, culture and other inspirations that will drive your success, visit our blog BARK! The Voice of the Underdog and catch up on all of our posts.

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Tina Tackett

at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency

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