Will Make Custom Communications For Food

Matt Herrmann, exec VP-chief strategy officer at McCann West, is a humanist. He’s also an ad man.

Writing in Advertising Age, he argues that machines are simply not capable of creating compelling advertising.

BETC Euro RSCG in Paris has made a software program called CAI (Creative Artificial Intelligence) that, after giving it some data on your target, product, and a basic strategy, spits out some mediocre print ads — no cantankerous copywriter required.

Stephane Xiberras, president and executive creative director at BETC Euro RSCG, said, “CAI creates something that resembles advertising, but that fundamentally isn’t, in the sense that it lacks essential qualities: novelty, inventiveness and the unexpected. In short, anything that only a human being is capable of producing. CAI is a fascinating but dangerous machine because it synthesizes the nemesis of our creative profession: standardized or formatted thinking.”

Herrmann concludes:

Our value as strategists and creatives is inextricably bound to our native understanding of humanity and our instinctual drive to make innovative and beautiful communication. And there’s value beyond just trying to win awards with that work; we’re ensuring the future viability of our industry against simplistic, mechanistic communication that can be easily duplicated, and easily dismissed. So go out there and make one amazing thing today.

People inside the ad business, and some outside of it, badly want there to a formula for producing great ads. But there isn’t one. The best work that communicates something powerful and lasting is created by chance, not by formula. Of course, the more chances the creative team takes, and the deeper they delve into the client’s particular marketing problems, the better chance that the work will be excellent.

I’ve never felt like what I do for a living could be automated. I don’t think that now. But it’s happened to a lot of people over the years, many of them skilled craftsmen. And when people who make beautiful things by hand are replaced by a machine that doesn’t, what ad man’s job is truly safe?

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