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First published in LBB Online
February 14, 2023
by David Sonderman

Sure It Can Pass the Bar Exam, But Can AI Make the Super Bowl Creative Cut?

There continues to be excitement and confusion around AI-powered creativity. Is it a design tool? Is it a writing tool? Is it an ideation tool? Is it an experience tool? Is it going to replace me?

Artificial intelligence platforms, like ChatGPT or Midjourney, are the latest new playground for the human mind. We already know ChatGPT is intellectually gifted — it even passed the bar exam. But can it keep up with that other widely accepted measure of a superior mind: Super Bowl creativity? 

By its own admission (I asked), ChatGPT is relying on the collective works of things that came before it. Specifically, things that came before 2021. So it has no idea of the idea that Zeus became the proud owner of a BMW electric vehicle last year.


Me: Describe how Zeus loves having an electric car

Chat GPT: I'm sorry, I am not aware of any information about Zeus having an electric car or any context of Zeus expressing any preferences or emotions about owning one.

But it does know about this creative tragedy:

Me: Describe what happened to Mr. Peanut

ChatGPT: Mr. Peanut, the mascot for Planters peanuts, died in a Super Bowl commercial in 2020. The advertisement showed Mr. Peanut sacrificing himself to save his friends after their nutmobile crashed. 

So ChatGPT knows about creative ad ideas after the fact, and there are numerous articles about how it can iterate on fully formed ideas. How close could it get to imagining a conceptual advertising idea? Blank page stuff? I fed ChatGPT a strategic premise from a few of last year’s most popular creative spots. And then I did the same with a few of the ads from Sunday night. 

What I learned is that if you don’t start with an idea, ChatGPT is probably not going to give you one. So back to Zeus. I fed ChatGPT the germ of last year’s BMW idea: “Write a commercial that features Zeus as a character who loves living in a modern world with electric cars.”

ChatGPT: “Greetings mortals! It's me, Zeus, and I'm here to tell you about the latest and greatest invention in the modern world. This beauty right here is an electric car, and let me tell you, I am in love with it. No more noisy and smoky chariots for me, this car is pure clean energy and a joy to drive. You know what's even better? With electric cars, I can go anywhere I want, and save the environment while I'm at it. Who says gods can't be eco-friendly? And let's not forget about the power of electricity. I mean, I am the king of lightning, so you know I love that kind of energy. So go ahead, mortals, join me in this modern and green revolution. Trust me, you won't regret it! [Screen fades to black, and the text "Drive Electric, Drive Happy" appears on the screen, followed by the logo of the electric car brand]”

See that last thought about being the king of lightning? Of all the creative angles from that idea prompt, that’s close to the one BMWs exploited in their Super Bowl spot. So AI got there. Sort of. Like monkeys at the typewriters. 

Again and again, I fed ChatGPT a strategic crux, and again and again received unimaginative responses back. However, the moment I added the hook of an idea, it jumped right in. 

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