‘ChatGPT writes like s**t’: creatives on the real role of AI in adland

Is AI creative a legitimate form of creativity? The recent boom in AI image and text generators has left many illustrators and writers fuming, who considered the very existence of AI art and copy an insult to their craft.

But does adland actually discriminate against AI-generated content? How should the industry be using the technology? We put these questions to copywriting and art creatives.

Copywriter Jess Wheeler, creative director at SICKDOGWOLFMAN (SDWM), said the idea of outsourcing creativity to AI, and in turn leaving humans to do “menial grind work,” is not “the utopia we should be imagining”.

“To be frank, ChatGPT and its variants write like s**t,” he said. “AI writes like a middle manager sending a corporate e-mail – which is fine if you’re a middle manager sending a corporate e-mail, but for anything else, it’s terrible.

“I get paid to undo this kind of writing, so I’m not sure why I’d ever want to replicate it.”

When asked whether using AI in copywriting is ever frowned upon, Wheeler, who has an AI side project on Instagram called ‘sick band names in the Herald Sun‘, said it’s also about the context of its usage.

Jess Wheeler

“No one in our agency really uses it in isolation to execute anything creatively. I’ve seen some brands use obviously AI-generated imagery, and AI-driven copywriting, and so far it’s all abysmal.

“It looks and reads like a robot desperately pretending to be a human. It’s like replacing your brand with Tony Abbott. It will get better of course, but the key is finding harmony between AI and humans.”

Speaking of where creatives should set their end goals with AI tools, Wheeler said: “As David Abbott said, ‘S**t that arrives at the speed of light is still s**t.’ Taking a blank page and turning it into something new and wonderful is the fun part.

“If you’re gung ho on entirely replacing human creativity with AI, then I think you probably need to meditate on why exactly … If the only answer is ‘cost efficiency’, then you’re probably in the wrong business.

“There are already far easier, boring, and lucrative ways to make money with machines. Go be a stockbroker or something. Commercial creativity is one of the few realms where we get to play and experiment and collaborate with other people to make cool things for a job.”

But how does AI perform in visual form? On the one hand, we see demonstrations of powerful AI tools like Adobe Firefly creating complex, hyperealistic image fills within seconds. On the other, there are also AI art generators that can’t even get the number of eyes right on a portrait.

@gfxadeel Photoshop AI CB | Piximperfect #2023 #photoshopai#adobefirefly ♬ original sound – GFX-Adeel

And that’s why Courtney Fay, senior art director at R/GA Australia said AI should be treated as a tool, not a competitor.

“You must learn to master it and also identify its shortcomings,” she said. “GenAI tools are encouraged at R/GA. The creatives and designers have access to Midjourney, Adobe Firefly and ChatGPT, to name a few.”

“But there’s a caveat. Even when provided with diverse prompts, these AI-generated images can still exhibit a consistent aesthetic.

Courtney Fay

“I think that it’s up to creatives to use their judgment to sprinkle in humanity to complement AI-generated images. We have to make sure we don’t feed into a ‘look-a-like future’ where all creative work looks the same.”

Speaking of her thoughts about other creatives using AI, Fay said: “The more creatives that use AI, the better”.

“For me, art can be made by machines or humans, but more importantly, art has to be original. The challenge with AI is that it is shaped by the existing world, so it is limited in its originality. Humans, on the other hand, aren’t bound by what exists to create new things.

“Art is in the eye of the beholder, so the perception of AI as art all depends on what you regard art to be.”


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