Artificial Intelligence Agencies New Tricks

Here’s how Ogilvy is putting Adobe’s gen AI tool Firefly to use


By Sam Bradley, Senior Reporter

October 5, 2023 | 7 min read

With key features and a trusted name behind it, Adobe’s gen AI offering could become industry standard once it leaves beta, Ogilvy’s Kaare Wesnaes explains.

Adobe Firefly on a screen

Adobe Firefly is build on Sensei, the company’s machine learning platform / Adobe Stock

For years, the use of Adobe’s range of software has been standard among professional creatives. There are very few creative agencies worldwide that forgo a subscription to Creative Cloud.

So, when it leaves beta stage (certain embedded features have already shipped), Adobe’s generative AI software Firefly, which is integrated directly into Photoshop, stands a strong chance of becoming the most widely used generative AI software in the world. At least in the advertising community.

Teams at Ogilvy and WPP sister agencies had early access to a standalone Firefly browser beta, as well as to features embedded in the Creative Cloud suite. The Drum understands that the agency group is developing a dashboard, tentatively named WPP Imagine, that collects together several generative AI tools into a single platform to allow staff to use the tech without falling foul of legal concerns.

The dashboard is intended to make the tech accessible to creative and non-creative professionals throughout the group and provide a level of legal assurance to the business. If staff use AI tools through the portal, agency bosses can be sure they’re using software licenses that allow commercial usage, and that they’re not inadvertently sharing client data or proprietary information with another company’s servers (as would be the case for users of ChatGPT’s free version, for example.)

In the meantime, Firefly is already in use at Ogilvy, both as an add-on to Photoshop and as a standalone tool.

Back in March, Ogilvy created the ‘What if?’ campaign for IBM. The work included a mix of traditionally produced campaign assets and some built with Firefly.

According to Kaare Wesnaes, Ogilvy North America’s head of innovation, the AI assets produced for the campaign were “comparatively simple” but provided early proof that the tech could be used in live projects. Adobe, he says, “is a trusted software house, it's trusted in business, it’s trusted in creativity.”

Firefly runs on Sensei, Adobe’s proprietary machine learning and AI platform. He pinpoints several key features, in addition to Firefly’s primary text-to-image use. In particular, he says its generative fill feature has been valuable to creatives.

“You can select a part of an image and replace it with something. Say, you have an image of a road with potholes, you can make the potholes and clean it up. It’s really cool. Or, you can select a person or animal in an image and write a prompt using it,” he explains.

Because the feature is already combined with the ‘magic wand’ on PhotoShop, it’s intuitive for habitual users. It’s not flawless, but Wesnaes says it brings designers and creatives a little close to one of the great promises of generative AI – that it’ll speed up or elide the boring, repetitive tasks currently embedded in the work.

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Firefly is also useful for typographic design, he notes. “You can make like really nice typography with generative AI,” he says.

Probably the biggest advantage for ad agencies employing Firefly is a legal one. Because it draws from Adobe Stock, the content generated using Firefly comes without the risk of copyright infringement carried by Midjourney or StableDiffusion, both of which have been the subject of class-action lawsuits in the US. “The legality of these tools is so important,” says Wesnaes.

“We’re completely indemnified and we can use it in our creative processes however we want to,” he explains. “We don’t have to worry about it, where now we have to worry about if creatives are using Stable Diffusion and Midjourney by themselves.”

Wesnaes says Firefly shares common drawbacks with Midjourney and Stable Diffusion – namely a lack of fidelity when generating human faces and hands.

“People, faces, hands are really big issues with lots of these AI tools. They don’t do it at all well. And Firefly has that image too,” he says.

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