Marketing Digital Transformation AI

AI monitors the rear-view mirror, human creatives drive us forward


By Richard Pinder | CEO

September 21, 2023 | 7 min read

It’s the job of Richard Pinder, chief executive of Rankin Creative, to ensure the agency isn’t missing out on any competitive advantages. He believes gen AI can be an essential tool but should never take the driving seat.


In the fast-paced landscape of Western industries, the arrival of any new tech sparks a swift categorization as a revolutionary must-have or an impending threat. This dichotomy is not unfamiliar, especially in Europe. We’ve already seen this pattern in the heavy industry in the past, and now it’s time for the service industry.

It’s little wonder that AI’s emergence has ignited a discourse centered around its potential impact on jobs. But focusing solely on employment is to miss the forest for the trees.

A wealth of evidence underscores that leveraging new technologies can increase productivity, diminish the burden of repetitive tasks, and, in many instances, surge employment opportunities with a higher overall salary.

While these opportunities may not always materialize in the same roles or for the same individuals, this broader trend has persisted over the past five decades.

It’s not AI v human - it’s AI and humans

AI is not just simply another tool; it has the potential to free us of mundane, low-skilled responsibilities if briefed correctly. This liberation empowers professionals to channel their efforts toward the higher-value, intellectually demanding tasks.

Something that used to take someone a week to do can now be done in less than an hour. Long gone are the days when drastic manpower is required to gather information, draft a first-pass approach, and cross-reference it with previous work.

Yet, it’s important to recognize AI’s present limitations. The technology largely functions as a rearview mirror tool, perfect for deciphering and collating past knowledge and actions within similar contexts. However, connecting seemingly disparate dots and employing innovation rests squarely on human ingenuity and unyielding determination. This harmonious interplay between technology and human insight is where the true magic happens.

Of course, not everyone shares this perspective.

I have heard respected marketing directors crowing about how their new agency has halved costs because they use AI to create.

For repetitive, legally restricted communications, this can work well. But where engagement and impact trump legal statements, the tables are turned fully.

Running with an idea created 100% by AI invites allegations of mimicry, copyright infringement, or worse - producing clichéd content essentially a synthesis of all that’s come before.

Fail faster using AI

Employing AI as an idea generator in content creation can yield invaluable insights.

For example, getting three different versions of a response from AI is a great way to outline exactly what you don’t want to say.

It’s a remarkable way to expedite the traditionally iterative drafting process. Advertising visionary Frank Lowe’s counsel to his teams echoes this sentiment, having been rumored to say: ‘Bring me your sixth attempt, not your first.’

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AI’s prowess doesn’t end at generating concepts; it’s adept at breathing life into complex layouts. Imagine showcasing an actor on a unicorn in the Okavango Delta to a client in photorealistic detail. It sells the idea and sparks discussions about relocating to Death Valley. However, the journey doesn’t conclude here.

The realm of production and post-production wields its own artistry, ensuring that once unleashed in the real world, the concept retains its impact - even when magnified on to Times Square billboards.

The future of our workflows

What lies ahead is a strategic choice that has ramifications for industries and individuals alike. By embracing AI and forging a harmonious human-machine partnership, we can break free from the historical dichotomy of either-or and instead favor both-and.

This collaborative approach isn’t merely about adaptation; it’s about evolution. It paves the way for elevated productivity, reducing dependence on memory alone, and affords us the luxury of dedicating more time to cogitation, nurturing ideas, and sculpting compelling narratives for our clients’ brands.

The potential of AI remains untapped, waiting for pioneers to unleash its transformative force. As history has shown, periods of technological change often defy binary choices - past progressions have frequently embraced both existing norms, leading to new and improved innovations.

Today, by weaving AI into our workflows with a nuanced understanding of its capabilities, we can make way towards increased efficiency and productivity.

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