Why we can’t hand over creative work to AI

For now, AI creativity alone will continue to underserve brands

The first principle in our guidelines for the use of AI at House 337 reinforces our belief in human creativity. This doesn’t come from a position of denying the importance or opportunity of AI, nor does it come from an approach of trying to maintain old ways of doing things in the face of innovation and progress. Our second principle goes on to encourage everybody — our team, clients and people in general, to actively experiment with AI as part of their lives. To understand, embrace and use these tools.

Rather, the focus on human creativity comes from an understanding of how technology works, and how creativity works

True creativity. Ideas that stand out and are distinctive. That creates a real impact for brands. Delivered with the level of craft that brands deserve. As we are navigating our way through the uses of AI in advertising we can easily point to examples where this technology has let down craft and led to some combination of ridicule, bemusement or just disappointment from the people seeing the ad. Amazon’s advert for the Fallout TV series was quickly found out for what it was; partly AI generated, with the three-legged women and misshapen cars to prove it. The reaction showed that fans of video games and TV expect a certain level of craft in the work that they see.

They expect those creating entertainment to care about the quality of the work and the quality of the ideas. As AI technology improves, we will see fewer of these three-legged people and misshapen objects.

So it may not be as obvious for people to spot an AI-created advert but it will still be possible for people to detect, they’ll just need to look harder. For us, the importance of human creativity is really down to two things that are less about craft and more about the fundamental way in which creativity and AI work.

First, the power of the original thought

Advertising that is effective is often distinctive. It feels new or different to what has gone before in the category or market. There is a danger of creative work all trending towards a sea of same and the combination of human creativity and AI technology is needed to ward against this. The human element is needed to ensure that the work is distinctive and effective.

Second, the bias that perpetuates AI training data sets

Advertising still has a long journey to go to ensure that the work we create reflects the people who we are hoping to reach. AI data sets have been proven to just perpetuate bias. Until the training data used is improved we will only see more white and more male representation in advertising — the opposite of the direction we need to better reflect the country we live in.

Human creativity is the most powerful way of developing original, contagious and well-crafted work. Human creativity supported by AI will help this to go further, faster. But for now, AI creativity alone will continue to underserve brands.

Featured image: Fallout TV series / Prime Video

Matt Rhodes, Chief Strategy Officer at House 337

Award-winning advertising CSO at House 337, Matt leads the team of strategists covering brand planning to data analytics, connections planning to influencer marketing strategy. Focused on leading projects that change behaviour and reach diverse audiences, from recruiting more underrepresented and female young people to the RAF; to leading work for the English Cricket Board to launch The Hundred to new audiences; increasing playing behaviour for Candy Crush and helping My Little Pony appeal to dads and boys as much as it does to mums and girls. Leading the LGBTQ+ network at the agency, Matt is a champion of developing a culture of inclusion in advertising.

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