In a rapidly evolving landscape, major global advertisers such as Nestle and Unilever are diving into the world of generative AI to streamline their creative processes, reduce costs, and potentially revolutionize advertising as we know it, according to a recent report by Reuters.
Generative artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which includes platforms like ChatGPT and DALL-E, offers the ability to produce a variety of content based on past data. This innovation has the potential to yield faster, more cost-effective, and practically limitless approaches to advertising products. Companies are exploring ways to leverage AI-generated text, images, and even code, with the aim of reshaping how they present their products to consumers.
Nestle, one of the world’s largest food corporations, is actively exploring the use of ChatGPT 4.0 and DALL-E 2 to enhance its marketing efforts. Aude Gandon, Nestle’s Global Chief Marketing Officer and former Google executive, expressed enthusiasm about the technology’s ability to provide creative ideas and inspiration that align with the brand’s identity. These ideas, generated by AI, are then further refined by human creative teams to create content that resonates with consumers.
Nestle, in its annual report for 2022, revealed that e-commerce sales represented 15.8 percent of its total revenue and grew by 9.2 percent last year. Nestle also said its digital marketing spend increased to 55 percent.
Nestle says artificial intelligence and remote assistance are allowing the company to become more agile and more flexible in manufacturing sites and supply chains.
Unilever, a multinational conglomerate that owns numerous well-known brands, including Dove and Ben & Jerry’s, has developed its own generative AI technology. This proprietary system can craft product descriptions for online retailers and generate visual content for e-commerce platforms. However, the company remains cautious due to concerns over intellectual property, data privacy, and the potential perpetuation of biases present in the data used to train the AI system.
In 2022, Unilever, according to its annual report, has spent a whopping €7.8 billion on Brand and Marketing Investment. Unilever says digital commerce, which represents 15 percent of Unilever’s business, grew by 23 percent in 2022.
While the allure of AI-generated content is compelling, the industry is not without its reservations. Many advertisers are wary of the security risks associated with AI-generated content, as well as potential copyright issues. Additionally, concerns over inadvertent biases present in the training data pose challenges to fully relying on AI-generated content. As a result, human involvement in the creative process is expected to remain integral in the foreseeable future.
The advertising industry giant WPP, collaborating with brands like Nestle and Mondelez (maker of Oreo), has already begun incorporating generative AI into its campaigns.
Mark Read, CEO of WPP, highlighted the substantial cost savings that can be achieved by utilizing AI. For instance, WPP’s collaboration with Mondelez in India led to the creation of AI-driven advertisements featuring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. These ads were tailored for local businesses to share, garnering millions of views on platforms like YouTube and Facebook.
Despite the promise of AI-driven creativity, there are concerns about potential job displacement. Mark Read acknowledged that while it’s easy to focus on jobs that might be disrupted, it’s important to consider the opportunities for new roles that could emerge in this evolving landscape.
The transformative potential of generative AI in advertising is undeniable. As companies like Nestle and Unilever explore innovative ways to harness this technology, they are also working to strike a balance between the advantages it offers and the challenges it presents, including bias mitigation and intellectual property concerns. While AI is poised to reshape the advertising industry, the fusion of human creativity and AI-generated content is likely to define the future of advertising campaigns.