The controversy over generative AI is settling in the world of marketing and creativity. Two arguments have emerged that defend or denounce artificial intelligence: 1) Humanists decry the existential dangers, as underscored by an open letter signed by hundreds of tech experts calling for a pause on generative AI and 2) technologists espouse the limitless potential to be realized, as evidenced by Microsoft’s $14 billion investment in OpenAI. Both are right, and both are wrong. The author Neil Postman wrote, “Every technology is both a burden and a blessing; not either or, but this and that.” And as much as people are simultaneously fearful and fascinated by artificial intelligence, we must ask, “What will AI allow us to do? And what will it allow us to undo?”

AI Brings Needed Scale And Precision To Marketing

The meteoric rise of generative AI marks both a beginning and ending for marketing creativity as we know it. Large language models such as Bard, ChatGPT, DALL·E, Midjourney, or Stable Diffusion are blessings and burdens — as Postman suggests. These technologies bring tremendous computing power, speed, and scale to the human act of creativity and ideation. The benefits of combining generative AI and marketing are:

  • Enhancing human intuition with machine intelligence. When AI machine intelligence is paired with creator intuition, the result is image generators and large language models that support taste, reason, and creativity. For example, Kraft Heinz prompted DALL·E to create representations of ketchup, which creative agency Rethink used in an advertising campaign for the company’s Heinz 57 ketchup brand. The campaign idea “Draw ketchup” was conceived by human creators and had been executed in previous iterations. But now, with the power of image generation, the idea took on a new form, significance, and scale.
  • Amplifying creators’ work. Generative AI technology acts like an assistant — aiding creative teams with idea generation, content development, and evaluation. Stagwell’s PRophet is an AI-powered platform that sits on top of OpenAI’s GPT-3. CEO Aaron Kwittken describes PRophet as an assistant that analyzes press outlets to target and produces PR and social content for PR professionals to edit and publish.
  • Adding scale and speed to creative quality. The efficiency and velocity of content development are paramount to the CMO’s agenda and to agencies’ future prospects. One adtech startup showed Forrester a prototype of an AI platform that produced an entire advertising campaign in less than 10 minutes — ready to publish to multiple social APIs at the click of a button. Coca-Cola used AI in the production process for its “Masterpiece” commercial that debuted in this year’s Super Bowl.

AI Breaks Down And Rebuilds The Creative Process

Yet artificial intelligence is also burdensome. It forces us to rethink the nonlinear creative process to meet brands’ exponential needs for volumes of efficient, fit-for-format content and advertising. It forces us to unlearn and relearn creativity. It presents challenges such as inaccuracy, bias, ethical, and legal liability for both brands and agencies. In effect, it’s the destruction and rebirth of creativity — as we know it. When AI is combined with your brand’s creative process, what emerges is intelligent creativity. Three years ago, Forrester introduced an approach to overhaul the intuitive creative process and invigorate marketing creativity. We named this solution intelligent creativity, defined as:

A process of creative problem-solving in which teams of creators and strategists conceive, design, produce, and activate business solutions with the assistance of AI, intelligent automation, and data.

Through this approach, marketing becomes smarter, the creative process becomes faster, and human imagination is free to focus on creativity when enhanced by the speed, scale, and precision that AI and intelligent automation provide.

Lean Into AI-Powered Marketing

Unlike previous automation occasions that required getting people comfortable with skill replacement, generative AI is a different kind of technological moment that calls for mastering skill enhancement. A change management process is needed to ensure appropriate use within enterprises and society at large. The CMOs who get this right will deepen their company’s AI maturity, tap into employee exuberance, and enhance their creative process with intelligent creativity.

Forrester clients who want to learn more about generative AI and marketing can read our report, Generative AI Unleashes Marketing’s Creativity Renaissance, or book a guidance session with Jay Pattisall or Rowan Curran.

Forrester clients attending CX North America can learn more about this topic during our Wednesday, June 14, 11:35 a.m. CST in-person panel session, “Generative AI Meets Commerce: Use Cases And Watch Outs,” moderated by Mike Proulx and featuring Brandon Purcell and Jay Pattisall.