I recently had the opportunity to chat with a chief creative officer from a renowned network agency.
Over coffee, the CCO shared an intriguing perspective she's seeing crop up in agencies. Whilst many young creatives tend to play it safe fearing client conservatism, clients are actually craving bolder and more innovative ideas.
This theme was also echoed in a talk I attended at DDB in Singapore last week. Lawrence Green, the effectiveness director at IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising), emphasised the need for creatives to write from a brief, not to a brief.
His words resonated with me: Experimentation is needed to break the mould of mundane advertising.
It is clear that generative AI will play a pivotal role in shaping this new narrative in the modern creative landscape. And it's not about replacing human creativity, but augmenting it, allowing us to explore uncharted territories, create stories that resonate on a deeper level, and bind the industry together in ways it hasn't seen before.
For example, the economic downturn caused by the pandemic severely impacted smaller businesses in India. Unlike major businesses, which have big advertising budgets to recover, local businesses lacked such resources.
To assist these smaller businesses during these challenging times, Cadbury enlisted the help of Ogilvy for its 'Not A Cadbury Ad' campaign in 2022. The campaign used generative AI to create ads featuring renowned Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, that simultaneously promoted Cadbury and thousands of local businesses.
The campaign picked up the grand prix in Creative Effectiveness at Cannes Lions 2023.
Closer to home, this new wave of creative thinking to solve problems was on display at a recent AI Storytelling workshop I attended, which is a collaborative effort between Singtel, Publicis Groupe and Singapore Management University (SMU).
Here, students were not just learning about AI tools, but applying them in real-world scenarios, and creating video stories for Singtel that focused on avoiding scams. The workshop was not just an academic exercise, but a platform for these young minds to push the boundaries of traditional storytelling.
During my time at the workshop, I saw a plethora of innovative ideas. One particularly memorable submission featured a panda adrift at sea, who miraculously gets 5G on its phone and calls for a helicopter rescue.
While this humorous and out-of-the-box concept did not make the final cut for Singtel, it exemplified the bold thinking the industry needs more of. I did however, talk to four of the winning students, each with their unique approach to storytelling with the help of AI.
Do note that due to copyright issues, we cannot publish their full works.
Fong Zhi Yen, a third-year business student, shared how personal experiences shaped her project. Her story aims to educate young entrepreneurs about protecting their online presence, inspired by her own challenges running a small business on Instagram.
She used AI tools like Pika Labs to create a watercolour concept video. Her journey from initial disappointment to creating something presentable in 12 hours with AI tools, was a testament to the resilience and adaptability of young creatives.
Belinda Liau, another final-year student, chose a horror theme to highlight the dangers of scams, blending it with comedy to create a unique narrative. She utilised AI tools within Adobe Photoshop and Wave for lip-syncing, showcasing how AI can bring creative visions to life.
Elvis Ng, a second-year business student, drew inspiration from his chess experiences and love for sci-fi. His film centred around the theme of scams, using AI to transform his ideas into an engaging narrative, emphasising the empowerment in storytelling.
Muhammad Gaizchary Putra, inspired by the recent surge in tickets for concerts like Taylor Swift resulting in scams, created a fantasy-themed story about internet dangers.
He used AI tools like Alpaca: AI Art Plugin for Photoshop and Midjourney to transform his storyboard into a captivating video, demonstrating AI's efficiency and creative freedom.
My chat with these students revealed a common thread of the transformative impact of AI on storytelling and creativity.
The students' projects, while diverse in theme and execution, all showcased a willingness to explore new territories, blend different genres, and leverage AI in innovative ways. They weren't afraid of harnessing it out of fear it would displace them. Rather, it became an enabler, another tool in their arsenal to leverage to elevate their creativity and to make their self-expression shine.
This leads us to ponder: Can generative AI make younger creatives less risk-averse? Does the safety net of AI tools provide a platform for bolder, more experimental storytelling? And most importantly, how can agencies and brands foster an environment that nurtures this creative fearlessness?
As we delve deeper into the era of AI-driven creativity, these questions become increasingly relevant. Perhaps the answers lie in the stories yet to be told, the bold ideas yet to be embraced, and the creative risks yet to be taken.
Shawn Lim is the media and technology editor at Campaign Asia.