Thinking

Last Month in AI:
“The Quote”

Published
April 16, 2024

Last month in AI, ‘The Quote’, as it is now known in marketing circles, spread like a viral meme on speed. Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, dropped the bombshell in an interview with AI transformation agency forum3: 95% of agency work could soon be automated by AI. Naturally, this left many agency-folk feeling like they’d been unceremoniously hit with a CTRL+ALT+DELETE.

By: Paul Marsden, SYZYGY GROUP’s consultant psychologist

95% of what marketers use agencies, strategists, and creative professionals for today will easily, nearly instantly and at almost no cost be handled by the AI.

Sam Altman (CEO OpenAI)

Is it really game over for agencies? Should we all just shut up shop and reskill for one of the 36 AI-proof job categories? Perhaps, but I wouldn’t underestimate the ability of agencies to reinvent themselves. We’re a resilient, resourceful, and inventive bunch. Nevertheless, the low-key existential angst now permeating agency-land is palpable. Events in March did not help, as applied AI made some serious moves. Klarna announced its AI agent is proficient in doing the work of 700 human customer service agents. Cognition Labs’ Devin makes for an impressive AI employee working as a developer.  Sora, the text-to-video AI, is generating creative short films that are really rather impressive. Midjourney can now do photorealistic consistent characters, making text-to-image AI more viable for ad campaigns. Suno, the AI music generator, is churning out tracks that could give Taylor Swift a run for her money. And let’s not forget about Claude 3, the new GPT-4 beating AI that can write decent copy, from Amazon-backed Anthropic.

But here’s the thing: agencies do more than build strategies and produce assets. We develop human relationships with clients, support them, make them feel good, or at least better, help them get seen and promoted, and throw in a mix of agency-with-benefits perks. Will AI be able to do all of this? Perhaps, but human psychology may well be ‘species-ist’ as Google’s Larry Page puts it, and biased to buy from fellow carbon-based, rather than silicon-based, life forms.

But relying on carbon chauvinism is risky. We, as agencies, need to level up. And one way to do this is to get back to marketing basics. Marketing is the activity of creating and communicating value. For too long we’ve been focused on communicating value. Why? Because communicating value is easier than creating value. But AI offers exciting new opportunities to create value too.

Let’s start with a recent SYZYGY project. For the Christmas season, SYZYGY’s client HYMER wanted to present the entire history of its products as a digital experience. The challenge was to reproduce the older vehicles in the same high quality as the new products. AI-generated images were the only way to create this experience.

Take the Rijks museum in Amsterdam as another example. In March, the venue launched a brand-sponsored initiative to help low vision and blind people experience art in a whole new way, using AI vision to transform visual masterpieces into captivating prose. Could your brand do something similar for the countless other venues, events and variations that might benefit from an AI upgrade? Imagine brand-sponsored AI audio tours designed to engage teens in art and culture, narrated by the (licenced) voices of their favourite celebrities or influencers. This is brand utility on AI steroids.

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And then there’s the Hyodol robot doll, that’s just won a 2024 GLOMO Award and that’s already making waves in South Korea. This AI-powered companion for solitary seniors offers everything from medication reminders to exercise guidance, and even music therapy. With aging populations and rising rates of loneliness, brand-sponsored ‘silvercare’ AI dolls make sense for insurance companies, pharma businesses, and telcos alike. And why stop at seniors? AI dolls designed to promote wellbeing and growth in children could be the next big thing, like a Tamagotchi to help kids thrive.

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So, the ninja-move for agencies to thrive is simple. Dodge the AI bullet by harnessing AI itself to create true value for people. Don’t think of AI as technology, think of AI as a value delivery opportunity. Using AI, agencies can be so much more than purveyors of brand spam, vanity sites, influencer shills and little blue links. We can create value by being valuable. So, let’s raise a glass to ‘The Quote’, and get ready to adapt to a brave new – and valuable – world of marketing. CTRL+ALT+INNOVATE, anyone?

Let’s talk about AI
Dr. Paul Marsden
Dr Paul Marsden Digital Strategist
SYZYGY GROUP
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