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Ad Execs VS AI

Edmund Cuthbert 15 June, 2018 (3 min read)

In Humans vs AI we take a look at a particular skill and ask "Who is better at this, humans or artificial intelligence?"

From chess to skiing, we will look at the greatest human achievements in the field and then discuss the best AI competitor.

Each week we'll look at a different topic, and you can catch the latest one in our weekly newsletter, so sign up here!

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I sauntered out of the office to attend Tug Life this week where luminaries from Google, Twitter and Spotify were presenting on the topic "Data & Insight: How can brands keep up with their audiences?"

However, the talk that really stuck with me was by Patrick Fagan, formerly of Cambridge Analytica (Boo hiss). Actually, Patrick rather leaned into his Disney-villain credentials and even encouraged booing from the audience when he announced who his former employer was, in a bold Andy Kaufman-esque move.

He gave some striking examples of how data-driven targeting had been successful, showing us some ostensibly terrible adverts like this one

Had been very successful in increasing sales. This got me thinking: what if we went one step further and instead of using data to track which adverts were succesful, used that data to train an AI to MAKE an advert.

Well, that's exactly what one Japanese Ad Agency tried. And the results, are well, weird.

The Story

Back in 2017 Shun Matsuzaka of Ad Agency McCann Erikson created the world's first AI Creative Director, called AI-CD. (And all thought AI was only gunning for blue-collar jobs?)

This being Japan, and for no discernible reason besides that, the AI also had a robot body

aicd.jpg

Matsuzaka and his team formalized the ad making process, and devised a structure of the differing elements of an advert. They tagged 10 years worth of adverts with those attributes and used that as the training data for their AI.

They now needed a client brave enough to entrust their brand image to an artificial intelligence. Up stepped sweet makers Mondelez, who instructed McCann with creating an ad to sell Clorets Mint Tab.

Perhaps reckoning that even an AI can sell gum, they allowed McCann to produce two adverts. One crafted by (human) creative director Mitsuru Kuramoto and the other written by the AI.

You can watch the results in all their glory below!

The AI

A world weary dog is despairing at his daily commute. With the daily grind of life getting him down, he takes to his knees in the poring rain.

But then.

He tries a Clorets Mint! And starts to exhale green clouds (side note, I very much thought green clouds were cartoon shothand for bad breath. Not "freshness lasts for 10 minutes." as requested in the brief. But whatever")

He takes the skies, strips off his suit before (spoilers) EXPLODING AS A DOG-SHAPED GREEN FIREWORK

It's as brilliant as it is weird.

The Humans

A woman paints Japanese Characters on the floor. Then a plane takes off. It's so nonsensical that I would 100% have thought this was the one written by an AI

I don't know what those characters mean and ironically tried to use AI to translate them but my Pixel couldn't manage it. So a small victory for humans, I guess?

Who Won?

When put to a public vote, the human led ad came out on top, winning 54% of the vote. However, when 200 ad industry executives were asked which they preffered, the AI written mint munching dog came out on top.

So, humans are marginally better at creating a populist advert. But if you ask the people in the know, a true advert conasuir prefers creative made my a machine.

It should be noted that the AI only wrote the script. The actual filming and acting was taken care of by very much flesh and blood humans. So perhaps Creative Directors should consider retraining as camera crew?

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We asked our followers on Twitter, and the winner was AI! Tune in to next weeks article to see if there is a clear winner between Debaters and AI.