AI in Marketing: Why Keeping It Real Wins Every Time

Joint MD Charlie Sells explores the increasingly complicated relationship marketing has with AI, and why authenticity will always shine through.

By Charlie Sells

In today’s world, where we’re all glued to screens and bombarded with ads, the rush to use AI for creating quick and easy content might seem like a no-brainer.

But as we've seen with the doctored pic of Kate Middleton causing an uproar, the Willy Wonka experience in Edinburgh that promised magic but delivered meh, Under Armour's hiccup with AI vs. human creativity, the deepfake of Sadiq Khan in the run up to the London Mayoral election, and Katy Perry’s viral Met Gala dress that turned out to be fake, it’s clear we need to hit the pause button and think.

[Above: The Willy Wonka Experience, BBC / Katy Perry, LADbible]

These stories aren't just gossip-worthy blips; they're red flags waving frantically, telling us that when it comes to what we see and share online, authenticity isn't just nice—it's crucial. People are smart; they can sniff out a fake a mile off, and they're not afraid to call it out. So, for those of us in the biz of getting brands to shine, the message is crystal: real beats fake, hands down.

Let’s face it, in the tug-of-war for attention, the genuine charm of human-made content has a charm that AI can't match. There's a warmth, a quirk, a flaw in the things we create that makes them resonate. It's the human touch, something that tells a story, makes people feel seen and connected. And in a landscape where trust is as precious as a sunny day in Blighty, losing it over a bit of tech wizardry is just not worth it.

[Above: Wes Walker's 'Forever Is Made Now', "first ever ai-powered sport ad" for Under Armour]

But here's the thing: this isn’t about tossing out AI with the bathwater. It’s about striking a balance. Imagine AI as the Robin to your Batman, the chips to your fish—there to make the good stuff even better. It's about using tech to amp up our creative powers, not replace them.

So, how do we spin this to our advantage? Simple. We double down on the craft. We shout about the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making something truly stand out. We tell the tales of the folks behind the curtain, the late-night light bulb moments, the failed attempts that lead to triumphs. This is our gold.

[Above: OpenAI to remove Scarlett Johansson-like voice, BBC News]

In the grand scheme, it boils down to this: people crave connections, stories, and experiences that feel real because, let’s be honest, there’s enough fake in the world as it is. By championing what’s genuinely, wonderfully human about what we do, we don't just sell better; we connect better.

To wrap up, the road ahead is pretty clear. As we weave through the tech-laden landscape of today's marketing world, let's pick the path lined with authenticity. Let's mix a bit of AI magic with a whole lot of human heart. Because when it comes down to it, keeping it real isn’t just smart; it's what wins the game.

Charlie Sells

Joint MD & Creative Director, Global