WPP-owned agency Ogilvy has launched the AI Accountability Act, an initiative calling for policy change by asking PR agencies, the advertising sector and social media platforms to mandate disclosure about the use of AI-generated influencers.
This would require brands to clearly disclose and publicly declare the use of any AI-generated influencer content by using either the hashtag #poweredbyAI, similar to the ‘paid partnership’ tag currently in use, or implementing a new watermark on all AI-powered influencer campaigns.
From Monday (19 June), Ogilvy will mandate the initiative across its global business. Until there is an official policy on AI, each Ogilvy office will be required to fully disclose its use of its AI-generated influencer content.
Speaking to PRWeek UK, Rahul Titus, global head of influence at Ogilvy, said: “AI is now becoming such a part and parcel of marketing, comms and PR, we need to figure out how we enable the use of AI to enable the work we do for our clients. We need to give it the right framework so that we are making the best of AI. And we’re not fighting it.
“We want to lead by example... What I would love to happen is for other people in the PR and comms industry [to] also take that same pledge and also start disclosing their AI-generated inputs,” he said.
“Given the PR and influencer industry, as a whole, is based on the foundation of transparency and authenticity, this feels like the right thing to be doing,” added Titus.
He argued that influencer marketing only works because people trust people more than they trust brands.
“If you lose that, influencer marketing is not effective anymore. AI has the power to shake the very core of how influencer marketing works, which is trust and authenticity. So if we don’t get this right now, we could be derailing our whole industry.
“And if the people that we’re using in our campaigns are no longer real, where is that trust? Trust comes from us being honest and accountable for the work we put out,” added Titus.
According to the global head of influence, even the initiative’s title, the AI Accountability Act, and part of the press release announcing today’s launch was created using AI technology.
The AI market is valued at $4.6bn and is projected to grow by 26 per cent by 2025, in large part because of the growth in the use of AI in influence, said Titus.
As part of its inclusive influence initiative, Ogilvy last year stopped working with influencers who distort or retouch their bodies or faces across sponsored or paid-for content in influencer activations.Titus hopes Ogilvy’s stance on AI-generated influencer content will spark a similar debate.
“What I’d love for this to be is that this instigates the conversation in the PR and comms industry,” he said. “We start talking about ethics and the accountability that we have to our audiences around AI.”
The launch of the AI Accountability Act is also timely as Ogilvy has created the AI-Generated Influencer Centre of Excellence in Vietnam, delivering end-to-end consultancy, virtual influencer creation, and AI-powered storytelling for brands globally.
Titus said the agency has “done a lot of work in this space”. He welcomed conversations with any agency or brand on the initiative but said they need to be showing accountability.
“As comms and marketing people, we hold ourselves accountable to the industry, to our consumers, to our brands and to our audiences to do better. And this gives us an opportunity to do better.”
Titus added: “We’re at the very start of that journey. So we have the power to influence this positively. Join us; don’t make AI the enemy. Use it as an enabler and be part of the conversation and influence the conversation positively.”
Last year India’s Advertising Standards Council was the first national watchdog to mandate clear disclosure rules for AI-generated influencer content.
Ogilvy is ranked 14th in PRWeek UK’s most recent Top 150 Consultancies report. Its parent group, WPP, and other agencies, have stipulated the growing importance of AI technology within the sector, with WPP describing it as ‘fundamental’ to its business.