The following is a Guest Post from Marketing Guru, Jim Joseph. In the post, Jim speaks about drones, robots, and artificial intelligence. Jim is the North American president of New York-based communications agency Cohn & Wolfe and author of three books, including his wildly popular, The Personal Experience Effect and blogs at jimjosephexp.com
Will Drones Replace My Creativity?
It seems like just yesterday that AT&T released a curious campaign that forecasted what life would be like in the future, thanks to their technology. It was 1993; looking back the predictions were shockingly accurate. The campaign was called “You Will.”
Years later, we’ve witnessed how technology can change our lives, limited only by our collective imaginations. Just one example is how the smart phone with social media has completely changed how we communicate, navigate, research, and shop. How far will it go? Enter the drone.
As I hear about the advances we are making in drone technology, I can only imagine where this will take us. We’ve already heard how the military is using drones, but certainly our imagination can take us in many other directions. Drones that manufacture goods already exist. Google is working on a drone that can drive a car. Golf courses can use drones to capture the ups and downs of their landscapes so that golfers can plan their game strategy from their tablets. Real estate agents can use drones to show isolated, upscale properties. Talk about a room with a view. Drones will soon be used in the operating room, if not already.
But it’s hard for me to imagine how drones could be applied in my line of work: marketing. I’m an agency guy – advertising, promotion, digital, social, public relations – and I’m creative at heart. I think in brands and taglines and visuals; I can’t help myself. So how could a drone help me, or worse yet … replace me? It’s not much of a mental stretch to see how drones could pull advertising banners across the sky at a crowded beach or music festival. A drone is much more cost effective and probably more environmentally friendly than a chartered plane to do that task. If we think about drones as flying video cameras controlled by our smart phones, then the possibilities are endless from a creative standpoint – something I’m sure many agency teams will soon utilize.
If we can use a drone to enhance our creative abilities, will it soon be creative on its own? I’m really not sure – it’s a bit scary to even think about. I can see how drones can be used as a tool in the creative process, or to help deliver a message to a customer, but not much beyond that.
But we’d be closed-minded not to ask … can drones be creative? I don’t think so – I’d like not to think so. The marketing industry just can’t be “commoditized” that easily, although many have tried it with standardized hourly rates and time limits for developing creative ideas. But the truth is that there is no standard approach to creativity. While there are certainly lessons to be learned from each brand, no two campaigns are quite alike. You can’t simply go to a creative “well” and pull out a brilliant idea to launch a brand. Each case is creatively unique. Sure, the process does feed on experience; much like a drone does to get its work done. The more you do it, in theory, the better you get at it and the more successful examples you can draw upon. Dare I say it, the more “formulaic” it can become. But the magic happens in the freshness of it, and the application of new thinking each and every time. That’s the creative part. The blank page that magically gets filled with a brilliantly new idea simply can’t be replicated with a mathematical formula. Sure there are parts to the creative equation that can get mechanized, like in the execution, but that’s after much of the creative ideation has happened. Perhaps in the final production there’s a place for drones, but I’m not sure much before that part of the process. But maybe I’m being naïve. Will drones eventually be able to do creative thinking? Will we see the day when drones can “teach the world to sing,” or “just do it,” or “be the ultimate driving machine?”
Time will tell. but I’d like to think not.