Written by Warren Davies, Managing Director, All or Nothing
When John Lennon first performed I am the Walrus to George Martin in 1967 the legendary producer said: “Well, John, to be honest, I have only one question… What the hell do you expect me to do with that?!?” Brilliant as the song is, as many are, it was an answer to a question that hadn’t been asked.
John Lennon: Semolina Pilchard… Climbing up the Eiffel tower!
ChatGPT seems to be answering the questions nobody in our industry has asked but are quickly noting down: Could we save four weeks on this really important task? Do we have to involve a professional or highly skilled team? Would it be a laugh to…
Tech is making good on its promise to make things simpler, including us, by convincing us that experience, insight, advanced meaning-making and craft can be substituted for words by the metre. I’m excited by the potential for AI to solve a host of problems we haven’t been able to ourselves already. The implications for science, health, the climate emergency — almost any sphere of our lives are staggering. What AI can’t do for now (until we reach pervasive machine learning) is decide which problems are worth solving. So we all have to use the grey matter for a little longer (I know… I’d rather be on the beach with a book too) and make some good calls on where to unleash the infinite monkeys ChatGPT promises.
On the Gartner Hype Cycle we are in a near-vertical roller coaster car where anything seems like a good idea for AI and words. That long copy for the rear of pack? Sure. That new tagline? Of course, those few words are the hardest! The text message to your partner to say you’ll be late home again, give it a go — they will understand. But there are some copy jobs and challenges in our field it would be interesting to give ChatGPT a go at.
The Internet is a hungry beast right now so sending our intrepid AI in to generate playful content for social media or websites in the tune of a brand or organisational voice could be interesting. It might not be precise or precisely good but with some forgiveness from people it would be an interesting experiment. After a few years of vanilla chat tools on websites and in service channels I don’t believe it can or should replace a human interaction. How underwhelming the application has been there. People helping people through text-based channels is still best.
Where brands or organisations have license to be playful in creating art or taking part in popular culture an advanced chat AI could also be interesting. If expression is more important than accuracy or nuance there might be a case for pushing the button here.
Where tools like ChatGPT continue to fall down, or may never be as handy as a human, are aspects of copy that rely on grey matter. You can’t program or hope ML will pick up when to use a Rihanna lyric or why being formal is fun when the product category is always loosey-goosey. Your AI can’t tell you why a new copy idea should work, only that it might, along with 1,234,567 other options. Its answer is ‘yes’, or ‘no’, or ‘maybe’ or ‘who cares?’
Nick Cave has been fielding dozens of songs recently from fans who have created songs ‘in the style of’ Nick Cave. To the latest he responded with: ‘this song is shit!’ No doubt there’s some pride and vanity at play and that’s to the heart of the matter. For those who take pride in just the right words, getting it right matters. Not just any Goo goo joob will do.