Brad v Bard: Testing AI’s creativity

Brad Collett, Executive Creative Director of Stanley St, challenges Google Bard to come up with five advertising ideas in five minutes – to test if AI really does have the creative chops.

Brad: Kia ora, Google Bard. I was hoping you could help me out with some ideation? I have 5 different briefs.

Bard: Absolutely! I’d be thrilled to help with a creative brainstorm. Please provide a bit more context so we can get started.

Brad: Brief 1 – Give me an award-winning creative campaign to convert gas-guzzling drivers into eco-friendly car drivers.

Bard: Turning Pollution Into Solution: What if we targeted non-eco-friendly cars with a large digital screen. At the centre is the image of the EV, in the middle of a city. The billboard will collect real-time pollution data from the city where it’s installed. This data visually transforms into smog every time a non-eco-friendly car drives by, gradually covering the cityscape on the billboard. When the pollution levels rise, the car on the screen appears to “charge up”, turning the pollution into clean energy. As it charges, the smog on the cityscape reduces, symbolising the positive impact of using electric vehicles.

Brad: Brief 2 – Give me an effective advertising campaign to help first home buyers.

Bard: The House For All: How about user-generated content: We’ll get customers and the community to share their personal ideas on what their first dream home is like. We’ll take all the pieces of information and build a house on a piece of land that replicates this, and surprise all the customers with a share in it. 

Brad: Brief 3 – What is an idea that focuses on personalisation of people’s ordering behaviour?

Bard: The Look Of Satisfaction: A restaurant chain that uses technology to personalise the ordering experience for its customers. When a customer enters the restaurant, they are identified through ID verification technology, then the system uses this information to pull up the customer’s past ordering history, as well as their favourite dishes and drinks. This information is then used to generate a personalised menu for the customer, which is displayed on their table’s touch screen.

Brad: Brief 4 – How can we get more kids off the couch and engaged with sport?

Bard: Data Dash: Let’s encourage kids to put their devices down and get active outside. An app on their phones will measure how far children have scrolled online and turn it into a game. The more they scroll, the further they have to walk, run, jog (avg. 90mins online = 275m scrolled). If they complete the task they will be rewarded with prizes.

Brad: Brief 5 – Is there a fresh way to do a charity drive for a women’s charity?

Bard: Walk Safe, Walk With UsAn app that uses crime statistics, lighting data, and population density information to suggest the safest routes for women walking home. As users interact with the app, it gathers anonymized data to continually improve route suggestions and provide real-time safety ratings. It also sends a message to other females in the area to alert them that you are travelling, and are safe. Blank billboards on the safe routes could be used to help light the way, and also offer additional light at night so women can feel a little bit safer.

Brad: Thanks, Google Bard. I’ll get back to you.

Bard: Happy to help!

Brad Collett.

All changed, changed utterly

Okay. It’s clear we’re standing on the precipice of a huge challenge here. Clutching a gleaming piece of technology that’s changing the advertising landscape, forever.

Already AI is cracking open doors to new creative portals, enabling us to work faster, streamline our processes, fire up our imaginations, and, ultimately, save time and money. It can amplify targeting, streamline programmatic advertising, and personalise customer interactions with chatbots and virtual assistants. Heck, it can even generate content.

Yep, this AI tool is phenomenal. That’s just it, though; AI is merely a tool. So however we use it, it’s worth remembering we’re still in the human business, dealing with person-to-person communication.

To AI or not to AI?

Obviously, it’s worth considering AI for anything that doesn’t necessitate the human touch. But things are sure to get interesting when it comes to deciding what tasks should remain human, and which should be automated. And like the tech, the implications are huge.

For example, the age-old creative team structure of art director and copywriter will surely evolve. Our collaborators will now include AI. It could be a designer working hand in hand with a developer, a comedian bouncing ideas off a musician, or a solo copywriter pairing with an image generating engine as their art director.

Photographers, audio engineers, voice artists, directors, designers, image sites will still exist, but probably not as we currently recognise them. The advertising realm will blend art and science. So let’s protect the process. Refine it, make it more agile, champion the brands we represent without losing sight of the end goal.

A word of caution

Currently it feels more like we’re in a tech-infused wild west. An era of trial and error. Agencies, marketers, businesses, we’re all pushing the boundaries, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. Are we using the tech, just to say we’re using it?

Like Dr. Ian Malcolm said (yes, a Jurassic Park reference) “Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should”.

I would say we need to tread carefully. Remember, AI fills in the blanks and fabricates. We still need to fact-check, understand the consequences, ensure we’re not stepping on anyone’s toes, plagiarising, or coming off as culturally ignorant.

In addition, AI can go off the rails easily. If you engage it without a clear idea or purpose, you get a disjointed mess on rollerblades munching on a banana. Not so great – unless, of course, that was your intention. So let’s ensure consistency, alignment with our brands’ guidelines, tone, and vision.

The idea remains

In short, quality will always outshine quantity. The AI business tools we design will mould the tech landscape of the future. But at the moment it’s a balancing act between functionality and emotion, saving time on routine tasks, and plunging deeper into the imaginative multiverse.

We still need to be putting content out there that makes people stop and think, “Wow, that’s interesting. I want more.” But I guess, ultimately, success will be determined by who uses AI the most wisely. Who develops their skills the most effectively, just as you would with any work program.

So let’s play with AI, innovate with it, research with it. But always remember to start with the WHY? How does this benefit me or my brand, how do I envision my business growing? That way, our ideas – and our humanity – will remain king.

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Now, if you’re still reading my ramblings, firstly well done. And secondly, I have a confession to make. The ideas at the beginning of this article were not conceived by AI at all. They were in fact written by our creatives, during a creative sprint session. Below are the actual AI responses to my demands. See what you think, does AI have what it takes to be part of the ideation process? And who is qualified to evaluate them?

Actual Google Bard responses:

1. Saving the planet, one drive at a time: A comedy idea where a retired superhero who now fights climate change by driving this car? We could name him “Captain Carbon-Neutral”.

2. Home is Where Your Story Begins: Ask customers to share their personal stories about their journey to home ownership, how it has changed their life, and how your bank helped them achieve it. This could be done through short videos, photo essays, or text posts, with a unique campaign hashtag.

3. Flavours of You: Digital billboards display a real-time feed of the different customised orders being placed in nearby locations, visually representing the variety of tastes being catered to.

4. Gear Up for Greatness: Collaborate with a sports equipment company to offer personalised gear for kids. They can choose their favourite colours, add their name or initials, and select designs related to their favourite sports or athletes.

5. Light in the Shadows: Arrange for public installations in city centres featuring large, symbolic houses that are initially dark. As people make donations, lights in the house gradually turn on, visualising the impact of their contributions.

Stay human, people.

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Brad Collett is Executive Creative Director of Stanley St.

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