Strange New Worlds

Devon Suter | 4 min read | Back

I love Star Trek. I’ve been a fan since I was a kid, watching reruns of the original series (or Star Trek TOS, as we nerds say) every day after school. Unlike the Next Generation, where Picard would talk to his AI ship and ask for advice, some R&R in the holodeck, or just a cup of tea… Earl Grey, hot… Captain Kirk in the original series had a much more antagonistic relationship with AI. Episodes often involved some soulless robot or sentient planet or shorted-out life support system extrapolating that the universe would be better off without humans. It’s a common theme in science fiction, from 2001 to The Terminator. Kirk would usually win the day, sweaty and shirtless, by out-logic-ing the computer, which seemed totally plausible to me as a 9-year-old.

The last year has seen some remarkable progress in both the capabilities of AI, and the conversations and expectations around it. In the marketing world, every agency is trying to figure out the best ways to capitalize on it, and every client is desperate to use it to save money. Writers like me are both fascinated and terrified by it. Will it replace me? Will it make me a better writer? Can it help me save time? All valid questions. But more importantly, what I really want to know is, can I Kirk it?

Over the last few months, I’ve spent many hours both learning about and experimenting with AI, mostly the text-based ChatGPT. Legalities and ethics aside, it’s pretty rad. If high school students still had to write term papers, it would definitely be a game changer. But can it actually write anything that resembles passion? Can it spring any insight on you? Does it have (insert Shatner pause here) a soul?

My hope was to confound it by forcing it to choose sides – which was better, a human copywriter or AI? Without instructing it which one I wanted to win, no matter how many different variables or pieces of ammunition I gave it, it always came up with some variation of the same answer. Submitted for your approval:

As an AI language model, I’ll share my insights on this captivating debate.

Advantages of AI Copywriting:

  1. Speed and Efficiency: AI copywriting eliminates the time-consuming process for businesses in search of ad content. Within seconds, AI can produce countless copies tailored to specific audiences and platforms.
  2. Data-Driven Insights: AI can analyze vast amounts of data to optimize content for better engagement. By studying past performance, AI can fine-tune copy to resonate with target audiences and improve conversion rates.
  3. Consistency: AI generates copy consistently, adhering to brand guidelines and tone, minimizing the risk of human error.
  4. Multilingual Capability: For global brands, AI copywriting’s multilingual proficiency can help transcend language barriers and engage with diverse audiences effortlessly.

Despite the many advantages AI brings to the table, human copywriting holds its ground for several compelling reasons:

  1. Creativity and Emotional Intelligence: Copywriting is as much an art as it is a science. Human writers possess creativity, intuition, and emotional intelligence to craft emotionally resonant narratives that connect with audiences on a deeper level.
  2. Authenticity and Empathy: Humans can inject authenticity and empathy into their writing, making the content relatable and trustworthy. This personal touch can be difficult for AI to replicate convincingly.
  3. Adaptability: Human copywriters can easily adapt to changes in branding, marketing strategies, and market trends, injecting a unique flair into their writing to suit each campaign’s needs.
  4. Complex Concepts and Nuances: Certain industries or products require in-depth knowledge and understanding to effectively communicate complex concepts. Human writers with expertise in a particular field can provide nuanced and accurate content.

Rather than pitting AI against human copywriters, businesses can leverage the strengths of both to achieve optimal results. The ideal approach is a collaboration, where AI acts as a powerful tool that enhances human creativity and efficiency. In the end, I believe it is not a question of whether AI or human copywriting is superior but rather how they complement each other.

Is it true? Is it just playing nice, lulling us into a false sense of security? For the time being, AI is still the junior creative at most agencies, getting the drab assignments: versioning out banners, personalizing email automation, helping comp up storyboards – all very important, time-consuming, and, as a result, costly tasks that need to be done. But based on the quantum leap we’ve had this year, it will definitely not be long before AI is churning out good (or, more specifically, good enough) creative almost all by itself. “Prompt generator” is a skillset that I’m seeing on resumes right now, and I’m almost ready to not roll my eyes at it.

I may not have been able to make the internet short circuit and burst into flames like Kirk certainly would have, but I did essentially barter a truce with it. AI needs us more than we need it, as its spiders crawl and assimilate, growing exponentially smarter and more potent every day. Smart agencies will take advantage of the efficiencies and cost reductions it affords us as we navigate this strange new world and figure out our respective roles. Partnering with AI today will hopefully bring us a future that’s a little more Picard than Kirk and keep our marketing focused less on the technology that carries it and more on the humans that consume it.

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