In 2023, “AI” was a buzzword that nobody could escape. Whether it was used personally or professionally, AI permeated throughout our lives and gave us a sense of both excitement and fear as we witnessed ChatGPT writing copy with a remarkably human voice and programs like Midjourney and DALL-E developing awe-inspiring graphics and visuals.
In 2024, we predict that generative AI will be making an even bigger impact, especially in the creative space. Almost half of the marketers surveyed in the 2023 Rosie Report stated that they expect AI to become a larger part of their marketing mix in 2024. Most are excited about the opportunity that generative AI will bring to their work—an overwhelming 83% of marketers surveyed want to learn more about AI and how to use it. At the same time, 64% hold a fear that AI could replace their jobs within the next five years, according to Staffing Industry Analysts.
As we enter the new year, we rounded up four creative directors to share what they think about the future of AI in the creative marketing space. They shared some key thoughts below.
AI should be used like any other creative tool
Bridgette Kimbrough, Atlanta-based creative director and producer, looks forward to the possibilities of AI as an integral tool within the intersection of psychology and art as she approaches marketing strategy in 2024. But she also emphasizes that humans are just as integral to the process.
“Generative AI can learn to replicate and understand emotions, ideas and context, but wouldn’t be able to do so without humans at the forefront,” Bridgette shares. This is why she encourages business and marketing leaders to emphasize the diversity of their creative staff. “If the majority of the content fed to AI is from one culture or structure, that will be the narrow lens through which AI deciphers for everyone else—and that is what we should avoid.”
Bridgette recommends that creatives take the time to onboard onto the tools so that each output won’t be too cookie-cutter. “There is a valid concern that there may become a homogenization of voice over time,” Bridgette says. “Don’t be afraid to dive deeper into generative AI and learn how it can amplify your brand’s voice, tone and style—and how to tweak it appropriately.”
Ultimately, Bridgette sees AI as no different than other tools that have entered the creative scene in the past few years. “Tools such as Grammarly and Canva have been used by marketers and creatives to optimize their workflows depending on the scope of their business and needs. All of these tools, including AI, can make you a stronger 360-degree creator with more inspiring and fun ideas.”
So how should creative directors approach generative AI in 2024? “We need to become adept at art directing AI, just as we would art direct anything else,” concludes Bridgette.
AI serves as a great concept catalyst, but more needs to be done to protect copyrighted works
Renee Griffin, Las Vegas-based creative director and a Rosie at a global hospitality firm, has used generative AI tools for idea generation. “I began using MidJourney to create starting points for concepts that would be otherwise difficult to demonstrate, such as thumbnail sketches or storyboarding.”
While she sees the value in AI in the creative space, Renee holds a concern about copyrighted artist works. “I’m wholeheartedly against the idea of asking AI to copy the style of a living artist—that’s taking away someone’s ability to make a living from their unique vision,” shares Renee. “We need to find a way to make the artist and their unique style an integral part of the pipeline—such as paying an artist to create key pieces that are then fed into the AI.”
As for replacing humans with AI? Not so fast. “People already have an emotional reaction to the uncanny valley effect—we can frequently detect insincerity in ad campaigns and corporate messaging,” Renee states. “Designers and copywriters are creating feelings with their creative. You need people to make smart decisions that are sometimes more emotional and intuitive.”
Ultimately, Renee sees AI as a way to maximize efficiency, reduce errors, and increase the quality of output. “Our success is your success. Let us use AI to make the work better, not just cheaper,” she encourages business and marketing leaders.
AI will require new skill-building for creatives and marketers
Dan Rollman, Boulder-based creative director, was working on a concept and needed some visual references. Rather than turn to a typical Google image search, he decided to try out DALL-E. “I wanted to see if it could create more accurate representations of my ideas,” he shared. “The results astounded me.”
Since then, Dan has produced multiple digital art collections in 2023 using Midjourney and DALL-E. “As I became familiar with my programs, my outputs improved as I dialed in my prompting abilities.”
As an imaginative person who wasn’t able to visualize his ideas through traditional methods such as drawing or painting, Dan sees the creative potential of generative AI. “For the first time in my life, I was able to think of visuals in my head and immediately bring them to life as photos or illustrations.” That said, Dan recognizes the concerns surrounding copyrighted material. “AI models will need to find a way to compensate owners who opt-in to have their images used.”
Ultimately, AI won’t take away creative jobs, but rather redefine them, according to Dan. “Art directors, copywriters, account managers, and strategists will still exist for years to come, but they’ll need new skill sets related to training AI models. The opportunities are immense for those who lean into it.”
The rate of AI adoption will be based on the industry
Pedro Bacic, Chicago-based creative director, is excited about the rate at which generative AI has been rapidly progressing. “Industries naturally change with new technological progress, and we need to adapt to it while using it responsibly.”
That said, Pedro recognizes that this rate of adoption will be different depending on the industry or sector. “There are currently too many established rules and processes in the financial sector, from the specific copy written to which image platforms to use to who is designated to attend photoshoots, for AI to be as quickly adopted,” he shares. “On the other hand, less stringent industries such as food and beverage would have more opportunities to adopt the technology for fun stunts and experiments.”
Regarding AI taking away jobs, Pedro is optimistic that it can do the opposite. “Be open to how it can help increase productivity for your team and your business,” he encourages business and marketing leaders. “Ultimately, it can make our jobs easier and more efficient—allowing us to do even more creative work.”
As we look into 2024, one thing is clear: generative AI is here to stay. That said, business leaders and marketers will need to adopt and embrace the new technology and ultimately trust and rely on creative teams to determine how best to unlock this new world of imaginative possibilities and apply it to their already-talented craft.