AI can't replace the human mind says MRM Meteorite chief

AI can't replace the human mind says Nicky Bullard

When it comes to creating innovative ideas, MRM Meteorite’s chairwoman and chief creative officer, Nicky Bullard says that artificial intelligence (AI) can’t substitute the originality of the human brain.

Ahead of her judging post at The Drum Creative Awards, The Drum spoke to Bullard on the lack of humour in advertising, calling out bad creative work and the future of print and digital in the industry.

How will print and digital play a larger part in the future of creatives?

The other day, I read something that spoke about using AI and computers to come up with the creative ideas in the future rather than humans. It may happen, but I don't think you can substitute the human brain for serendipity when it comes to putting ideas together and where they come from. Ideas can come out of thin air. You could be watching a TV program about monkeys and it could give you an idea about a fizzy drink. The mind will be challenged by AI but I don't think it can be a substitute.

On the print side, people still read magazines and newspapers, maybe not as many but we still do. What should be happening is making sure that print is a part of the story and not just the story itself. It used to be a case of having a fantastic print advert and it gave you all you needed to know about a product/service/outdoor poster but now it's part of the marketing mix. People are thinking much more broadly about how a story ties together rather than a one off execution.

What are the key trends for creatives right now?

I believe in making ground-breaking technology useful, which is starting to happen. So, creatives are looking at new tech; like virtual reality, augmented reality, and how that can make a real impact in our lives. For instance, taking it into the healthcare arena. At Cannes, they spoke about how virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can be used as teaching tools. So, don't just teach the people in the operating theatre but teach thousands of students at the same time.

But you need to make sure you are using technology to its fullest potential and not just for the sake off it.

What has been innovating the industry this year?

2015 was all about VR. I think this year is all about making VR mainstream, by looking at what we need to start thinking about it as a different media.

For example, my kids look at the Argos catalogue every Christmas and last year they were selling all the VR headsets, around 20 of them. That tells me that this is becoming mainstream. Even though we, as an industry, think it was a little bit last year, now see that there is a move to the real world which will be very useful.

What do you think is contributing to the lack of humour in advertising?

I think we might all be taking ourselves a bit too seriously. At MRM Meteorite, we want to stir the soul. This could be making by someone feel something by moving them, exciting them or making them laugh.

I think humour is treated sensitively, but it is hard to be funny. That's why there are so many poor comedy series on TV and you rarely get a cracker. But I agree, maybe as an industry we are taking ourselves too seriously. Often humour comes through great writing and in the industry, craft has suffered. Due to things like speed and technology, because we are used to getting things too quickly now and not everything that is instant is perfect. It would be nice to see a bit more perfection in craft.

How can creatives bring back the humour to advertising?

We are in a funny place as a nation at the moment. It's quite a dark place with all the terrible things going on. Life, in general, is quite serious. Money is tight, the on-going issues with North Korea, Brexit and Trump. So, I'm hopeful, that as things get really dark our British humour comes out. Maybe this will be the year for humour.

Do you think creatives have a responsibility to call out bad work?

No we don't, but we have a responsibility not to do it. There could be many reasons why a piece of work isn't where it started at the point of concept; like timing, budget, someone's opinion, it can be all sorts of things. I'm sure every single creative in the industry has done a piece of work that isn't brilliant or that they'd rather forget.

As a judge for The Drum Creative Awards 2017, what would you like to see from the entries?

I want to see work that's been considered from an art direction and from copy writing point of view, the craft, I want to see that the craft is making me feel something. I want to be stirred. I want to be walking away thinking 'shit, I wish I'd done that' or 'wow that has really inspired me on something else I'm doing and made me think about it differently' or 'who is that creative, I want to hire them'.

Why did you become involved with the awards?

It's really important as chief creative officer that you are involved in awards. It allows you to see where the standard is.

It's also an inspirational tool which gives me a chance to go back and talk to my creative department and ask why we aren't doing things like that. So, it's an essential part of my role as a chief creative officer, to make sure I'm in touch.

What categories are you excited to judge?

The most exciting category, I think, will be integrated. When I spoke about print being part of the story, it would be fantastic to so see a cracking integrated campaign where everything ties together, that every element is brilliantly thought through and not just reproduced in a different media and where the craft is tip top. That's really hard to do, it's the holy grail. So, if someone has done that, that would be amazing.

Bullard is a judge for The Drum Creative Awards. You can enter now and celebrate stellar creativity that helps recognise the best work across all disciplines and media channels worldwide.

The awards is sponsored by: Creative Equals, TINT, The Drum RAR and The Drum Network.

Danielle Gibson

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