The computer that creates ads. But is it better than human creatives?


By The Drum Team | Editorial

March 7, 2011 | 4 min read

Stéphane Xiberras the exec creative director at BETC EURO RSCG Paris created CAI, a machine that creates ads. The Drum challenged real creatives to see if they could do a better job.

The point of CAI – a machine that creates adverts – was to prove the worth of creative human thought, yet its results very often remind us of ads we have already seen on the pages of magazines and on street corners.

As such, The Drum invited real UK creatives to test their skills against the power of Xiberras’ machine. (See gallery, left, for just a few examples of the machine's creative v man)

We also asked Xiberras (pictured, left) to write about his creation and his fears of creative homogeneity...

"What started out as an intellectual game became more and more alarming as we progressed in the development of our robot," said Xiberras. "We expected to create a clumsy rather grotesque machine that would be systematically way off the mark, in a comical way.

"Unfortunately, this is not the case. CAI produces something that is caricature, but that very often by some random diabolical grace, reminds us of an ad we have already seen on a street corner or on the page of a magazine.

"CAI creates something that resembles advertising, but that fundamentally isn't, in the sense that it lacks essential qualities: novelty, inventiveness and the unexpected. In short, anything that only a human being is capable of producing. CAI is a fascinating but dangerous machine because it synthesises the nemesis of our creative profession: standardised or formatted thinking, call it what you want."

Xiberras continues: "Faith in the fact that creativity sells, and the courage to defend creativity against idiotic formatting no matter what, are the only arms that can still protect us against CAI. To surprise, to innovate, to invent is what we owe our clients and what they have the absolute right to demand from us.

CAI is the true story of the first, and hopefully the last advertising robot.

To read the full, fascinating interview with Xiberras and see more man v machine adverts, see the latest issue of The Drum magazine. Members of MiNetwork can read the full piece here

President and executive creative director of BETC Euro RSCG since 2007, Xiberras is in charge of key agency accounts such as McDonald’s, Loto, Peugeot, as well as the highly awarded CANAL+ account, for which he has handled “The Closet”, that was named best film of the year 2010 (Gunn Report).BETC EURO RSCG was again awarded “Best Creative Agency” by French magazine CB NEWS, for the twelfth time in 16 years. The company has 700 employees, with clients such as Air France, Lacoste and Evian.The agency is the Guinness World Record owner for the most viewed online ad ever, with the Evian Rollerbabies campaign. Xiberras is also the inventor of CAI, the robot that makes ads.


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