While marketing scientists seem to think AI will solve the escalating demand for relevant content without breaking the bank, I’m concerned we’re overstepping the limits of what a computer can really do by having it create ads – and in the process risking the credibility and reputation of brands with the very people they aim to engage.
This is part of a larger problem in marketing. We keep looking for answers in technology that we should be looking for in human connection.
I’m guessing most advertising people, like me, get fascinated with AI and want to test everything it can possibly do. After all, creating new means and methods of communication is fundamental to our business. We’re paid to take platforms as far as they can go. But our charge is also to create ideas beyond the available data and logic that computers are limited to, and write them into great advertising that plays on human senses and emotions.
That’s where AI reaches its limit. AI is not an ideal creative engine, because computers can’t be people. They can think, but they can’t feel and sense, or make emotional connections between impulses. They don’t know the feeling of sinking your toes into wet sand as waves roll over your feet; or the sensation of the wind pushing your hand up and down when you hold it out the window of a speeding car. Without this kind of shared emotional reference, a message about human experience will feel hollow.
In other words, AI has no soul. And it’s soul that sells. The emotional response we seek as marketers isn’t a chain of logic; it’s the triggering of a feeling rooted in a sensation. That’s why 'Got milk?' swayed a generation where 'Milk, it does a body good' fell flat. And it’s why 'You’re not yourself when you’re hungry” resonates three levels higher than 'Snickers satisfies' ever could.