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  • Marwa Kaabour

Is Our Creativity Being Jeopardised?

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

This article was first published on the website of the Marketing Mania Show

Imagine life without creativity. Walls in galleries and houses would no longer have paintings decorating them. Color would no longer be a means of self-expression. And if we had intense emotions failed by words, we would have no song lyrics or poems to fall back on. It would be an empty life.

Human VS AI

Now imagine marketing and advertising without creativity. Ads would no longer trigger emotions. People would no longer buy brands because they are related to them. They would be driven to buy whatever is most readily available and perhaps even use price points as their only decision-making criteria. That would be grim news for the hundreds of thousands of people employed in the marketing, tech, and creativity fields.

Some may argue that digitization and artificial intelligence are the “future” of our industry. But I disagree. How would AI, an invention based purely on logic and rationalization, trigger emotions in people who are now more aware of how digital marketing and targeted ads work? These advanced technological capabilities will serve as tools to perfect what has been, and always was a creatively driven industry.

AI Isn’t As Big As We Make It Out to Be

In her book You Look Like A Thing And I Love You, Janelle Shane spent a great deal of time studying AI, how it self-learns, and its inherent limitations. Here is a recipe an AI software wrote after learning several recipes on the internet:


Main dish, soups

1 lb chicken

1/2 glove garlic, crushed

1 cup celery, sliced

1 head (about 1/2 cup)

6 tablespoon electric mixer

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 onion-chopped

1 cup beef broth the owinls for a fruit

1 freshly crushed half and half; worth of water

With pureed lemon juice and lemon slices in a 3-quart pan.

Add vegetables, add chicken to sauce, mixing well in onion. Add bay leaf, red pepper, and slowly cover and simmer covered for 3 hours. Heat until sauce boils.

Serve with pies.

Refrigerate for up to 1/2 hour to decorate.

Yield: 6 servings.

Sounds delicious! AI learns from what was, not what will be. It cannot replace the innovative human spirit. AI’s real dangers lie in its own limitations, which could lead to horrendous outcomes due to mismanagement by mankind.

AI is a tool we can use to supercharge marketers and advertisers. But it still requires that “human touch.”

Precise Advertising, But At What Cost?

With big tech-companies inventing new ways for us to speak to people. (I call them people not consumers and not customers - as we must all remember they are mothers and fathers and daughters and sons like us.) We have a plethora of ways to speak to them effectively. Every click, view, and conversion comes at a cost. We now know where people live, how they live, what pains them, what motivates them, and how to get to them right at the time when they are most open to a new purchase.

But extreme precision comes at the cost of creativity sometimes. Take Dynamic Creative Optimization as an example. If I wanted to speak to several markets with different product offerings and target audiences, I’d work with my creative agency to develop a library of several images and headlines that could be mixed and matched to target them. The pitfall? My advertising would be precise, but it would not necessarily make someone feel anything.

I challenge our industry to use these tools to roll out more effective campaigns, without compromising on the quality of creativity and uniqueness of the messaging.

Questioning Data

There is no denying that our communications landscape is becoming more data-driven than ever. It is essential to use data to make decisions. But we must not forget to question data.

When digital platforms tell us that the best-performing ads were a certain length, had the logo appear in the first X number of seconds, etc. They are telling us what was best performing based on averages. They are not counting all of the outlier scenarios that may have not followed those rules but still performed exceptionally well.

Charts About Marketing Campaign

Let us use data to build our campaigns, but always take it with a grain of salt. Data informs us of what performed well in the past, but cannot guide us into creating something exceptionally new or memorable.

Our Obsession with Fixing “Problems”

We are obsessed with defining problems. But more often than not the problem is not a communication problem. What if our product has a flaw? What if it is not available in the color people like? What if it is not being sold in the right places or priced in the right range?

A creative solution will not always be a 360-integrated campaign, sometimes it could be a simple relevant Facebook post, a revised price point, or product color availability.

We should change the narrow way we view our business problems by being open to solutions coming from anywhere, even if that means we have to go back to the drawing board as marketers.

Take the iPhone as an example, the product sells itself by continuously adapting to people’s needs throughout the year. It’s not only about how they communicate.

Let us not forget that at the end of the day, we are speaking to human beings. These people all have different desires and motivations. They evolve on an almost daily basis. Their online behavior is not necessarily reflective of their real-life behavior. Brands need to be with them every step of the way.

While digital marketing allows us to reach them at the right time and in the right context, if we are not saying what they want to hear then all of our efforts will go to waste.

As Seth Godin said it, and boy did he say it well, “Consumers have more power than ever before. What a shame it would be if we all used it for was to get a Whopper for a few pennies less.”


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