Guest Times: Have AI and technology become more important than creativity?

Unmisha Bhatt, Chief Strategy Officer and Director, India and MENA region, Tonic Worldwide, writes about the one topic that was hotly debated and highlighted in many sessions at Cannes Lions – the role of AI in the realms of creative thinking

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Guest Times: Have AI and technology become more important than creativity?

Unmisha Bhatt

For decades, the Cannes Lions festival of creativity has been celebrating the most innovative minds from all over the world. Thousands of creative directors, marketing executives, advertising salespeople, panellists, and presenters gather at the festival to debate the future of the industry. I was fortunate to witness this first-hand this year and one topic that was being hotly debated and highlighted in many sessions was the role of AI in the realms of creative thinking in the advertising industry. A major challenge marketers are contending with is getting the right balance between humans and AI, creativity and data. There have been on-going mumbles that Cannes is turning out to be a technology festival instead of one that celebrates creativity. However, it is important that we cut through all the noise and realise that data and creativity are not enemies but friends.

The fact is that data does not ruin creativity but empowers it. Think about this. On a daily basis, we bombard people with loads of messages on their digital networks. Now we have the opportunity to utilise data from AI and machine learning to understand consumer behaviour, and this will inform searches and performance marketing channels. All this helps to create compelling and effective brand stories to support and serve people better. Data brings about insight and ideas, which are the bedrock of creativity. Data is human and it is the little bits of data that help shapes an insightful idea that drives creativity. Data is all about giving interesting insights at scale and only improves the traditional processes of research and focus groups, leading to interesting creative communication.

Younghee Lee Samsung’s Global CMO reinforced this point in her presentation. She said, “Technology is fundamentally changing the industry and society and that AI is changing the way we live. But she added that technology will not be the downfall of creativity, instead it will be an enabler for creatives and marketers.”

Speaking further on this, Stuart Bowden stated, “AI and other technologies will not kill creativity but will enhance it. Commenting on what stood out to him at the festival, he said there are an estimated 500 entries for the data creativity category at Cannes Lions in 2018. Those figures point out that data and creativity can coexist, so we can finally call off the debate that data kills creativity.”

The bottom line is that data fuels and supports creative thinking. Data informs the type of ads to run and how creatives develop innovative ideas. If a company wants to position its product appropriately for an 18-year-old as opposed to a 60-year old customer, there’s need to change the message creatively. And to get that level of personalisation, you need data as well as consumer behaviour analysis.

Data is definitely not killing creativity, it’s an opportunity, not a limitation giving us ideas on what to deliver. Data and creativity complement each other, data becomes more useful when we add our intelligence, insights and creativity to it. The ultimate combination is for marketers to marry creativity and data together and not choose one over the other.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and we do not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)

Guest Times Tonic Worldwide Unmisha Bhatt