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Rethink shares secret sauce behind Heinz AI campaign that won at The Drum Awards Festival

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By Richard Draycott | Associate Editor

February 8, 2024 | 5 min read

The Canadian ad agency was one of the major winners at The Drum Awards Festival 2023. The Drum’s Lynn Lester recently caught up with the creative team there to talk about its innovative AI campaign for Heinz, which helped the agency sweep the board in last year’s competition.

Heinz Ketchup

AI campaign reinforced strength of the Heinz Ketchup brand

Speaking via live link from Toronto, Canada, to an audience of over 120 marketers at The Drum’s Predictions 2024 event in London, Rethink’s creative directors Zachary Bautista and Geoff Baillie shared their story about using early AI software to enable them to create the world’s first-ever AI-generated ad campaign. You can watch the full interview here.

The campaign saw AI platform Dall-E 2 given the relatively simple instruction to depict a Ketchup bottle and the results formed the basis of a campaign that truly reinforced the global power of the Heinz Ketchup brand.

Speaking of how AI was used to bring the idea to life, Bautista said: “There were certainly some logistical challenges in the sense that, when we started out and even when we pitched the idea to Heinz, the text-to-image AI generators really weren’t what they are today. They were in a sort of infancy. So, we had to get access to a beta testing version of Dall-E to start this whole experiment.

“At the time, it was sort of in this grey area of, like, what can we use? What can we say to it? How does copyright work with an AI-generated image? That was a bit of a challenge to navigate, but we did the idea super quickly. From the initial pitch to release, it was less than a month.”

Creative partner Baillie spoke about how AI is changing and will continue to be incorporated into the agency’s work.

“It’s scary how fast it’s growing, but it is exciting,” he said. “I think as long as creativity and creative insights are in the driver’s seat, it’s just going to be a tool for us to use. AI can’t replace human creativity and insight and stuff, but it can really speed it up. It feels like we’re not that far away from AI-generated photography, images and stuff like that just being integrated into campaigns. But, like Zack said, you still have to have the idea.

“You can’t rely on AI to come up with the idea. So, it will only ever just be a tool that makes things faster and more efficient.”

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As part of The Drum Awards Festival 2023, Rethink scooped 17 awards and was Highly Commended four times for work with brands including Heinz, Ikea, Decathlon, Nestlé and Penguin Random House.

The Drum Marketing Awards 2024 are now open for entry and the deadline is March 6. For full entry details, visit The Drum Marketing Awards website.

Agencies Artificial Intelligence The Drum Awards Festival

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