Intelligent machines can supercharge the creative process, writes RPA Advertising senior vice-president Tim Leake.
Artificial intelligence has arrived; the genie is out of the bottle and it’s not going back in.
After slowly building steam over the last few years – accompanied by a rash of tech offerings with exaggerated promises and not-really-real-AI – the last few weeks have ruthlessly demonstrated how really-real AI will profoundly impact our careers and lives.
Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those uh-oh-we’re-screwed kind of articles. Change doesn’t care whether we like it or not. We have to adapt regardless, and I’m interested in uncovering opportunities.
At RPA Advertising, we’ve been playing around with AI writing tools like Copy.ai and Jasper for a while, and they continue to get better. AI systems like MidJourney, DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion, Lensa AI and others are just the start of an astounding era of AI -generated art. And now ChatGPT has blown the internet’s collective mind with its ability to engage in conversation.
AI will only become more impressive from here. Any creative professionals that don’t do the work of integrating this technology into their process are likely to find themselves left behind.
Sixty-some years ago, Bill Bernbach pioneered the creative team model of having art directors and copywriters work together. Together, they developed better, more effective and more interesting ideas. Now, ADs and CWs have the opportunity to bring on a third partner: AI.
With AI, it’s all about prompts. And coming up with strong prompts is quickly becoming an artform all its own. But importantly, when we prompt it, it prompts us back – just like any good partner would; we give it something to think about, and it gives us something to think about in return. If we expect it to completely do the job for us, we’re thinking about it wrong.
Here are a few upsides to partnering with AI:
It’s an inspiration fountain. Creative teams are always on the lookout for inspiration – perusing the awards show archives, visiting art galleries, scrolling through TikTok or staring at their partner’s shoes until something pops into their heads. AI offers an unlimited supply of thought-starters, random approaches, lists, and ideas we can bang against other ideas in hopes of getting a spark.
It helps teams build creative leadership skills. Working with AI means thinking and acting like creative directors. We need to brief it (in the form of a prompt). We need to give direction and feedback. We need to review a lot of subpar thoughts in order to find the gems worthy of further polishing. And we need to accept that it won’t always nail the assignment on the first try. I predict that exercising these muscles earlier-on in careers will lead to exceptionally strong future creative leaders.
It makes teams ask better questions. One of the most valuable skills in the modern world is being able to ask smart questions. It’s a skill that unlocks creativity, innovation and success. And it’s also pretty much the only way to get anything decent out of an AI interface: What if we try asking it this way? What if we explore this line of thought? And so on.
It will force us to set a higher creative bar. AI is very, very good at mediocre writing and mimicking existing styles. So we have to raise our bar. We have to embrace our unique perspectives and approaches, and bring that hard-to-define je ne sais quoi to our creative ideas. It’s not just about winning creative awards. It’s about survival. Generic is no longer an option – computers can do generic just fine without us.
It can do the boring work that dulls creativity. There is so much necessary work that ultimately sucks the creative spark from our souls. So let’s give that to AI. Have it crank out a draft, spend a few minutes editing and adjusting, and be done with it. Then get back to thinking about big challenges that need big, creative solutions – you know, the part of the job that inspired most of us to join this industry in the first place.
It helps us work faster. Every client wants better ideas, faster and cheaper. AI can help turbocharge the creative process. There will undoubtedly be many great creatives who resist this. But while they’re busy complaining about the state of the world, the creatives who embrace it will be quickly presenting, selling and producing great work that was created with the help of AI.
Tim Leake is senior vice-president and chief marketing and Innovation officer for the advertising agency RPA.
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