The other day I attended a social gathering with former colleagues from the ad agency where I spent some of my formative years. A b2b agency, so … less flair, more serious business.
We talked about the good old days of course, and occasionally shared some spontaneous views on today’s advertising scene.
At that level of seasoned wisdom, GPT is not even an issue, not for strategic and creative writing. And the senior art directors around the tables didn’t have a lot to say about Midjourney and other visual tools either. Not due to unawareness or ignorance, mind you, but different perspectives.
Generally, the art directors that I have had the pleasure of knowing over the years have a solid professional background, a keen ear for customers' business challenges, and a genuine dedication to design and other higher art forms.
And, equally important, a different approach to human communication than my own.
As a writer it is invaluable to have a creative bouncing board for partner. An art director who challenges your logical reasoning with critical reflections, not least on human perception and behaviour. They tend to have a more direct, instinctive nose for great ideas. Sometimes also resulting in words. Like a better headline than the one I cracked on my own.
The average age in ad agencies is low, like in the early 30s, a bit higher in b2b agencies, but still no place to grow old. Most people at our get-together had either moved on to management on the client side, to own ventures, or retired. So, fully aware of the goings-on in ad tech but hardly updated on the latest software versions.
Nobody questioned the technical capacity and capabilities of the new AI tools. Or that any remaining imperfections will soon be sorted out. But however powerful and useful it may be, the new toolbox is still a … toolbox.
A toolbox bound to evolve beyond anybody’s current imagination. And, long before that, make big waves in the advertising community.
Speeding up expected and real delivery times. Cutting budgets. Clients keeping more of the simplest jobs in house. More straightforward product promotion, presenting features and services more effectively at first glance. Maybe going for more down-to-earth ideas and accepting ”lower creative standards” to save time and money.
All that and more. And yes, erasing a number of job opportunities, too.
But it doesn’t even begin to challenge the experience, the high professional standards, the imagination and keen eye of a true art director.
An invaluable resource for certain jobs. For conceptual depth, clever ideas, refined taste, a touch of humour, and true originality. For advertisers who really need it, who thrive on excellence, and have the time and the money to spare.