Creative15 Apr 2024Simon Druery

30-Days of AI at a Creative Agency.

At Belong Creative, our team embarked on a 30-day journey to leverage AI in our daily workflows. The learnings gained from this experience have been pretty interesting (a mixed bag - so to speak), showcasing both the transformative potential of AI in enhancing both productivity and creativity, while also revealing some glaring limitations.

And to top the journey off, the 30 days culminated in my facilitation of a university lecture to 100+ students at UNSW on the subject of AI in 'Creativity and Advertising'. There's so much we've learned, and yet it feels just like the beginning!

Teaching my first ever university lecture - on AI would you believe!

Ok I was feeling a bit nervous - only because I care about the students and want them to find the lecture interesting and of value. And yes an auditorium with 100+ students feels like more is at stake than a classroom of 20+.

So who should I turn to for support to settle my nerves? AI of course! 

Given we had embarked on 30 days of leveraging AI, I asked ChatPGT for advice ‘How can I better prepare for something I’ve never done before?’

Its advice was pretty good. Start with research, break it down into steps, ask someone who’s done it before for advice, practise, stay flexible, visualise success, manage stress (breathing and meditation), stay organised, stay positive (and afterwards - reflect and learn for next time!). Most of this I'd done but it was a good reminder to...'breathe'.

But before I let you know how it went, first, let's go back 30 days in time.....

What's all the hype about?

Having seen plenty of the hype across social and even mainstream media about AI, AND having dabbled in its use for over 12 months, we felt it was time to commit a bit harder. We come up with the idea of 30 Days of AI. An opportunity to take note each day of how we used it, and ultimately ask ourselves did it make our work day any easier (or not!).

So why AI? Well, in our ever-changing and dynamic world of all things digital, staying ahead often involves embracing cutting-edge technologies. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one such innovation that's revolutionising how marketers and creators operate. I'm telling you if you ignore it, it will not go away. It's here to stay and is revolutionising how we create and publish content to market.

The speed of adoption has been insane. Faster than any technology advancement in history, mainly due to it's accessibility (free and low barrier to entry), plus the viral nature of awareness. The 'pin-up' for AI has been ChatGPT, which hit 100 million users in an astonishing 2 months. (As a comparison, Facebook took 4.5 years to do the same).

So here's a snapshot of our 30 day experience....

Day 1-10: Exploring AI Platforms

During the initial phase, our team experimented with various AI platforms. Did you know there's 100s of AI tools being released every day. (It's hard to keep up!). From popular ones like ChatGPT to more niche tools like Fireflies AI, each platform offered unique functionalities tailored to specific tasks. Karen, one of our team members, utilised ChatGPT to generate initial copy ideas for a client's social media campaign. Meanwhile, Andrea explored PopAI to expedite PowerPoint presentations, highlighting its potential to streamline content creation processes. While we didn't use the Presentation per se, it gave us a guide to enrich our briefing session with our content team to present a clearer vision of what we wanted. Efficiency and effectiveness right there!

Day 11-20: Integration into Daily Tasks

As more familiarity with AI platforms grew, our team looked at ways we could more seamlessly integrate them into their daily tasks. Often we found ourselves forgetting to ask 'I wonder if AI could help with this?' (So it's something we now have included as part of our process when reviewing every project). Personally, I started using AI for organising schedules and summarising meetings, significantly reducing manual labour (less typing!!). Andrea also found AI particularly useful in generating image ideas (and improving her AI prompts along the way), which helped enhance creativity in design concepts. The versatility of AI became evident as it assisted in tasks ranging from content creation to data analysis and summarisation. Ok - this is looking promising.

Day 21-30: Optimising Workflows and Overcoming Challenges

In the final stretch of our journey, we focused on optimising workflows and addressing challenges. While AI streamlined many processes, some team members encountered hurdles such as refining inputs to achieve improved and desired outcomes. AI wasn't quite getting it right. Often the output was not good enough to go straight to client or market, and generally always needed human alteration and improvement. A lot of the time, we had to humanise the content further; making it more relatable and authentic. However, with perseverance, these challenges were more easily overcome, and AI emerged as a helpful assistant, but definitely not a perfect asset in our toolkit.

We see AI simply as another tool to support creativity and productivity. It is not replacing our people, rather freeing up their time to work on more strategic work.
Simon Druery

Key Learnings and Insights

Through our 30-day immersion into AI, several key learnings and insights surfaced:

The Stats

Over the 30 day experiment, we felt AI made our tasks or days easier 58% of the time. Well, that sounds promising, but also with some room for improvement!

We used 14 different apps that were either AI-based or had AI-integrated tools in them.
These inlcluded:
• ChatGPT
• Photoshop
• FireFlies
• Spinach
• Illustrator
• LinkedIN
• MidJourney
• PopAI
• Looka
• Leonardo
• KReatable
• Brandmark
• Typeform
• Yabbel

Conclusion: Embracing AI for Future Success

Our 30-day journey with AI reaffirmed its potential as a tool to save time and inspire divergent thinking. But it comes with some limitations. By harnessing the power of automation, creativity, and data analysis, AI has become a helpful ally in our quest for content, marketing and operational efficiency. As we look towards the future, we remain committed to embracing emerging technologies and leveraging them to drive innovation, efficiency, and success in our work flow.

As I wrapped up the lecture (to some very kind applause), I realised I had gone into the lecture with the intent of being pro-AI. I was excited by the thrill of doing some live demonstrations in ChatGPT and Midjourney. Yet by the end, I'd gotten over the hype and the responses from the students were quite grounding. "Quite familiar." "Not very original" "Seen that before" - and on reflection, while it was 'cool' that a machine could generate stunning imagery in mere seconds, it dawned on me that everything I had been teaching in my course....'Defamiliarisation. Conceptual Thinking. Incongruity. Puzzles. Paradoxes."....what I was expecting from my students....AI couldn't come even close!

At Belong Creative, while we're excited to continue our exploration of AI and look forward to the possibilities it holds for shaping the future of marketing, we're also cognisant of being human, real and that authentic, original, quirky humanness is what we do best.

Article by Simon Druery

Simon Druery is Director and Brand Strategist at Belong Creative. What gets him jumping out of bed each day is helping business owners and marketers craft brands that people want to belong to. When he’s not working you can find him travelling Australia in the family caravan and enjoying a tawny port by the fire.