Setting the scene
How does ChatGPT respond to direction? How does it fit and modify language to suit the needs of a particular audience? Or rather, can it do these things? The things a creative writer learns to do day-to-day on the job?
As an industry, we tend to shrivel up at the mere mention of change. (Ironic, isn’t it, when you consider how much time we spend trying to persuade our clients to change.) We like things the way we like them; the way we’re used to them.
It’s no surprise then, that most of us are treating ChatGPT as a toy rather than a tool. “The bot’s output,” says Ian Bogost, contributing writer at The Atlantic, “while fluent and persuasive as text, is consistently uninteresting as prose. It’s formulaic in structure, style and content.”
Ready. Set. Write.
Which brings us to our script-off experiment. To assess the capability and creativity of ChatGPT, we decided to test its response to a previous creative brief, completed by BEING without the aid of AI.
In 2022, we produced a copy-led campaign for Dinnerly — an Aussie-based, cost-effective meal delivery service.
As part of this campaign, we scripted and shot a TVC to raise awareness of the brand’s key selling points: Dinnerly’s recipes are easy, tasty and affordable. Seeing potential for recognition in the brand’s name, our Sydney-based Copy Lead (and human being), wrote a rhyme using a range of adverbs to emphasise the -ly in Dinnerly.
Dinnerly is simply delivered home conveniently.
Cook all meals affordably with recipes made easily.
Flavours are expertly designed to taste deliciously.
And servings are generously portioned for the family.
Enjoy it plated daily, so everyone eats happily.
But could artificial intelligence follow this same line of thinking?
Here’s the brief we gave to ChatGPT:
Good afternoon, ChatGPT. (Manners are everything.) Could you write us a script for a 30-second TVC to promote Dinnerly? The audience is busy professionals who crave convenience, but not at the expense of taste. With Dinnerly, they can choose from over 50 recipes, pre-portioned, packed and delivered to their door. They’re free to skip, pause or cancel their subscription at any time, no questions asked. In the script, we need to include the words easy, taste and affordable, as in, recipes are made easy and they taste delicious to boot. Please keep the exclamation points to a minimum – Dinnerly is clever in the way it talks, never cringeworthy – and feel free to have fun with language.
The trusty NLP wordsmith returned an answer in seconds – humbling, to be sure – and while the copy wasn’t necessarily bad, it wasn’t exactly good either.
ChatGPT opened with: “Are you tired of the same old takeaway meals every night?” It then proceeded to deliver the same old lines:
You’ll have everything you need on hand with Dinnerly.
Dinnerly makes cooking delicious meals a breeze.
Dinnerly has something for everyone.
Dinnerly. The easy, tasty and affordable meal kit service for busy professionals.
To be fair, most first drafts need work. So we asked ChatGPT to focus on expert flavours, generous servings and convenient home delivery – and to present these features and benefits as a rhyme. Confusion ensued.
Why settle for anything but extraordinary, Dinnerly makes mealtime no longer ordinary.
Your one-stop meal kit shop, making every meal an adventure, non-stop.
No more ordinary meals, time to indulge, with Dinnerly’s meals, mealtime becomes a bulge.
Skip the ordinary and dine like royalty, daily or weekly, the choice is yours, solely!
That’s when we realised we had to be more specific. We told ChatGPT to use the -ly mechanic as a suffix, and attach it to the end of the words simple, expert, taste, delicious, happy and family.
ChatGPT had a hard time with that, too.
With recipes that are so fine, ingredients so fresh, it’s sublime.
Cooking dinner is no longer a chore, Dinnerly delivers straight to your door.
Game. Set. Match?
It would certainly appear so.
ChatGPT may be easy to use, eager to please, and faster than a blue hedgehog, but it struggles to break free from its one-size-fits-all approach and respond to detailed feedback.
Still, let’s give credit where credit is due. A message like “Skip the ordinary, dine like royalty” would make a decent social post or digital banner. Yes, it toes the line between clever and cringeworthy, but perhaps that’s a line ChatGPT hasn’t been programmed to see yet. Maybe ChatGPT’s purpose is to give the muse a poke when it’s nodding off — to produce more ideas for us writers to play with.
And that’s not all.
ChatGPT can be used by marketers to generate leads and assist in targeted email campaigns. It can recommend a list of subject lines on Monday (while we decide which is best) and analyse consumer behaviour on Tuesday (while we determine the insights). It can provide multi-language support as a customer service rep who never clocks off, data organisation for analysts who are drowning in Excel spreadsheets, and role-playing exercises for marketers who are just starting out.
Leave creativity to people
Like all tech solutions, ChatGPT should be solving a problem, not creating new ones.
In the words of OpenAI, the research lab that developed it, ChatGPT can admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests. Its function is to interact with us in a human way, but let’s not take that to mean it can – or, for that matter, should – replace all human endeavours. Let’s not force it to be creative, and then act surprised when it comes up short. Let’s not allow ourselves to be distracted from the real problems that need solving.
Problems like this: according to a new report, 95% of us in the agency world feel that most briefs are lacking in clarity or strategy. Often there is no understanding of who we’re trying to reach; there are no objectives.
Marketing is about building relationships, right? With our consumers and employees, our partners and suppliers? Marketing is telling the best story in the best way, and we can’t reach a satisfying end if there are roadblocks at the beginning. Or as Mark Ritson puts it: “If the basic building blocks of what we should be doing sit jumbled and unassembled on the floor.”