In a short time, AI has delivered innovative experiences for consumers, and efficiency for brands and agencies, with further untapped potential of AI unlocking new opportunities within the creative and commercial space. However, opinions are divided, with questions of inauthenticity and doubts as to whether AI can serve as a substitute for true human creativity, leading to the question: will AI complement or hinder creativity?

This was the theme of May’s Oystercatchers Club, where Matt Bushby, CMO of Rightmove, Deepti Velury, COO at Tag, Alison Orsi, NED & Marketing Advisor, Isabel Perry, VP of Emerging Technology at Dept, Swagat Choudhury, Global Head of Digital Products at Diageo, and chaired by Gill Huber, Managing Partner of Oystercatchers explored the world of AI, its impact on advertising for brands and agencies, and what it means for the future of campaigns, commercial ideas, and creative propositions.


Opportunities and value driven outcomes

AI has been propelled into the spotlight, and what it has achieved in so little time has proven how it will revolutionise how brands engage with customers and enable them to create more bespoke advertising solutions. From the use of Generative AI to automate tasks and streamline internal processes, to bespoke solutions that are delivering value for customers, brands are increasingly embracing the power of AI to enhance their marketing and advertising strategies.

During the discussion, Choudhury and Bushby discussed how their brands are leveraging data and AI for content creation and driving efficiency to deliver compelling brand stories. Both Velury and Perry spoke on their agencies’ proprietary AI models, and how it’s being used to tackle client challenges, from omnichannel assets and route to market, to building bespoke platforms to reimagine a customer’s experience.

Orsi highlighted the immense opportunity for brands to leverage AI for personalisation and targeting. AI’s capabilities in this space, such as the ability to quickly analyse masses of complicated data will enable brands to create highly personalised marketing solutions that resonate with audiences.

The speakers agreed that when incorporating AI into their strategies, brands should align their use of AI with desired outcomes, ensuring that the solution addresses the specific problem at hand and delivers tangible value.

Balancing innovation with caution

In addition to the opportunities and the first steps brands and agencies should take when venturing into the AI space, the discussion delved into the challenges, such as the current lack of regulation, uncertainty over ownership of AI outputs, and the effect on creativity.

Perry outlined the current regulatory landscape, highlighting how it isn’t at pace with the speed of AI’s evolution, and which developments on legislation brands and agencies should have on their radars. Despite this, rather than stifling innovation until laws catch up, all panellists agreed that brands and agencies should embrace a learning and explorative mindset with AI, whilst establishing necessary guardrails within their businesses.

This further highlighted the importance of transparency in AI usage, urging marketers to adopt responsible practices and strike a balance between harnessing AI’s potential and ensuring its ethical use, to leverage AI’s transformative power while maintaining integrity and trust.

Threat to creativity – is man competing against a machine?

A final theme which emerged centred on people, including the importance of bringing teams along on the AI journey, and how the technology can help enhance human creativity as opposed to act as a substitute for it.

Bushby emphasised that AI is not intended to replace or stifle creativity but rather to aid and augment it by alleviating mundane tasks and allowing people to focus on elements that require human-level decision making and creative energy, for more impactful work. Seconding this, Orsi explained how, when implemented correctly, AI raises the bar for creativity, leading to improved customer experiences.

Perry and Velury highlighted the transformative potential of AI in shaping digital architecture, explaining that collaboration with clients is crucial in this space to understand how best to shape this, and unlock new levels of creative storytelling.

The panel agreed AI’s ability to deliver impressive results should not overshadow the expertise and unique qualities of human oversight. While AI can enhance the creative processes, human involvement remains crucial for originality, understanding emotional and social nuances, and connecting with audiences on a deeper level.

This sentiment was echoed when asked how AI would affect the pitch process. As AI influences the marketing landscape and client needs adapt, brands will naturally have an increasing demand for agencies and their people who understand the capabilities of AI and what value it will deliver for their audiences. However, the consensus was creating positive and long-lasting client:agency partnerships involve people and relationships. Throughout the process, there is still a huge need for human empathy and understanding, with people buying into the people – which at this stage, goes beyond the capabilities of AI.

While the concept of AI isn’t completely new, what has taken the marketing industry by surprise is the sheer pace of its adoption, the innovative steps brands and agencies are already taking to create efficient and value-driven campaigns, and the manner in which AI has enhanced creativity. As the industry continues on its AI learning journey, human oversight and emotions will still be paramount throughout the end-to-end creative process.

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