It’s finally happened.
2023 has been, and always will be remembered as, the year when AI finally entered the mainstream conversation. To say its evolution has been swift would be a dramatic understatement, with the emergence of AI tools like Midjourney and ChatGPT seemingly changing the fabric of the creative industries in a matter of months.
But today, I stumbled across a piece of news in my Inbox that genuinely evoked a sharp intake of breath – VCCP has launched not only a campaign designed entirely by AI but an actual agency.
Called “faith”, the new agency will act as the Group’s “Generative AI creative shop”, producing automated work for clients and cultivating an “explorative R&D hub” in partnership with Keele and Staffordshire Universities. It sounds interesting, of course, but while it promises exciting possibilities, it also raises questions about the short and long-term impact of AI on our industry.
Is this the first of many? Will AI shops replace traditional shops in the coming months and years? Should we be afraid or excited? Let’s dissect, shall we?
The Promise and Potential of AI Agencies
On the surface, VCCP's faith represents a major step forward in creatives harnessing the power of AI to streamline the conventional process of marketing. It’s also a natural progression, as VCCP has reportedly been using AI for years already for media, data, planning, production, and UX/UI.
Traditional creative agencies rely on human intuition and experience to develop campaigns, but AI brings data-driven decision-making and efficiency to the forefront. Algorithms can identify patterns and generate insights that human minds might overlook, and this speed and efficiency could potentially lead to more innovative campaigns and better allocation of resources.
The technology could also allow VCCP to tailor campaigns to individual consumers, allowing for more personalised and highly targeted experiences on a massive scale at a fraction of the cost of an old-school campaign.
Then there’s data analysis to consider, with AI able to identify emerging trends, predict market shifts, and optimise campaigns for better results to reduce reliance on guesswork and dramatically enhance decision-making accuracy.
Challenges and Ethical Concerns
Of course, there are always going to be ethical concerns with any major new groundbreaking technology and, let’s be honest here, the legalities and ethics surrounding AI are still being ironed out. But the key points, for me, stem from job displacement.
You see, the kind of jobs that AI will be replacing are the ground-floor jobs that people like me used to use to get a foothold into the industry. If that foothold is taken away, isn’t that only going to wider the barrier to entry for those not from wealthy backgrounds? Because I can honestly say right now, as a professional writer without a university degree, without the “grunt work”, I’d never have been able to work my way up the ladder.
Striking a balance between personalisation and respecting individual privacy rights as far as data collection is concerned will also be a difficult tightrope to balance on for faith and its inevitable descendants. As its work is based on data, AI is also liable to repeat and accentuate the biases of the data it draws from and that’s going to be one hell of a hurdle to overcome.
And this is before we get into the existential debate of human creativity vs automated creativity. Because, while AI algorithms can generate creative ideas, they lack the depth and originality of human creativity. The human touch, intuition, and emotional connection that drive truly groundbreaking campaigns may be difficult or even impossible for AI to replicate fully.
Transparent, Authentic, Compliant and Ethical
There is one founding client working with VCCP on faith - fintech firm, Sage. Not exactly the “warmest” sector. According to Cath Keers, Chief Marketing Officer at Sage: “thousands of Sage customers are already benefiting from AI solutions and services, elevating the work of humans, and freeing them from repetitive administration tasks. AI also provides us with powerful insights that help us deliver a more personalised and human experience for our customers. We are excited about the possibilities of this collaboration and what it gives us from a creative agency perspective.”
It's apt that the marketing spiel being shared by Sage almost sounds itself as if it could have been generated by ChatGPT. Hell, it probably was. But VCCP, for its part, does at least claim to be operating around four key principles – transparency, authenticity, compliance, and ethics.
Hopefully they can stick to their guns and this experiment can bear fruit as a more affordable option for smaller brands and those not as concerned with pushing the boundaries of creativity.
Or maybe it’s the beginning of the end. Who knows? We had a good run, right?