One of the unwritten rules of advertising is the market leader frames the category styling and narrative
Advertising is a game of contraints - imposed by the market leader - the only thing of interest is how the competition positions itself against the market leader's narrative
i.e. How many ways can you say we're better, faster, cheaper, etc
One of the more visible expressions of this idea was the "I'm a Mac I'm a PC" campaign launched by Apple in 2006
This month here in Australia AMart Furniture launched “Life. Styled”
The narrative is framed by IKEA’s “Make yourself. At Home”
The market leader’s call to action is “Home makes you. So go on. Make yourself at home.”
The aspirant’s less a call to action. More a nod’s as good a wink to blind bat. “Life is unpredictable. Do it in style”
The key insight here is advertising creative is no different to the billboard hit parade.
Each new hit single shapes the ideas that follow as the pop artists trade creative ‘blows’ in the never ending race to the top
The past shapes the future… especially if you choose to fight in an established market
and there’s nothing wrong with that. When disco was hot everybody was busy writing songs for the dance floor.
It is this creative ping pong that funds the industry
Things only really change when you choose to reject the past and invent a new genre. A new category.
In marketing Thinking Different means Thinking New Category
It means clearing out a whole new piece of real estate in the prospect’s mind
It means choosing to fight where there is no competition. Where there is no better. Only you.
However fighting with yourself comes at a price. It comes with extreme risk. It is first and foremost a lonely place. At least until you are discovered by the crowd
This is why most creatives and marketing professionals choose to bet on just being better… this approach is basically risk free and makes framing the narrative much easier than starting with a blank canvas
and this is why - I suspect - AI will excel at advertising
After all what is easier than writing a prompt saying this is the market leader’s ad. Make something better… (or at least along the same lines)
The future becomes a game of ping pong messaging between competing AI’s designed to riff creatively within the restraints of the category narrative
- less a game of origination. More a game of everythings a remix - pretty much a mirror of the industry today
How close are we to that today? Well let's run a quick experiment on ChatGPT to find out
This is the script of the IKEA 60 Sec. TVC ad running in Australia today
Ikea. Make yourself. At home
Something as simple as an easel can inspire our creativity and make us want to push our creativity further than we ever imagined
Learning to grow plants at home could make us want to grow something bigger later in life
At home it’s never too late to to make yourself
To write write your own story and even share it with the world
Yes we make our homes what they are
but when you think about it
Home makes you
So go on. Make yourself. At home
Now let's get started with ChatGPT... We'll begin with asking it to rewrite a summary of the IKEA ad
The first thing you'll notice is ChatGPT uses too many words for a 30 second spot
You need to help it trim the fat. Hence the request for less words
You will also notice the best ad sits somewhere inbetween the short and long takes
As a mother-to-be, you dream of creating the perfect home for your child.
A place where they can grow and thrive.
A place where they can push their creativity...
In truth the role of the editor is still central to cleaning up the script
But there is enough to work with in the raw material if you want to put the effort in
Which points to the current argument of investing in augmented intelligence over artificial intelligence
The next question is how did the 'creative' stack up against the professionals?
Well here is the script from the AMart spot
Life. Just when you think the morning routine is going to plan
A styrofoam solar system lands on your breakfast table
Minus one planet
There’s gremlin running around the kitchen. no pants.
and that yogurt. yeah that’s low (fat)
Life is unpredictable
Do it in style
AMart. Life. Styled
It paints a picture of everyday suburban life. Of life lived. The mundane of the daily grind.
The AI on the other hand speaks to the dream of a life to be lived to the full
and I think there maybe a message about the current and future states of advertising buried in there somewhere
In the meantime it raises the question
Will we see a two tiered market for advertising creativity in the near future?
One where the market leaders invest heavily in defining the narrative constraints and the rest augmented imitation
ie Category makers vs category imitators
In other words advertising, rather than living life on the bell curve, develops, like everything else in the digital economy, a very long tail
I guess only time will tell...
We'll finish up by comparing apples with apples
What happens we ask ChatGPT to rewrite the IKEA ad based on the premise of the AMart ad?
The answer looks like this...
The word count is much shorter this time around and what I find interesting is the call to action "there's no one better at building a home than a mother... so go on create your home" is stronger than the agency pitch
The tone is more uplifting
and although it is only the bare bones of the finished product it wouldn't take much to pull it together into a workable format
So what's the take away?
As I have said before the promise of AI across all professional service sectors is that it will solve the age old paradigm of the Triple Constraint: you can have it cheap, fast, or good, but you can't have all 3
This experiment simply proves that the ChatGPT inspired copywriter is fast and cheap
But is it good?
Arguably, given the current state of advertising, that question is redundant
The commercial objective, inspired by decades of managment consultants, is fast and cheap
and in that context it is self evident the technology is now fit for purpose
But only if you know how to ask the right questions :)
Until next time...