Rob Reilly WPP

Rob Reilly: AI empowers us all to experiment and to fail

WPP's global chief creative officer shares some thoughts on where creativity is heading.

By Creative Salon

Ahead of WPP being crowned Holding Company of the Year at Cannes Lions - and in a break between the uncharacteristically heavy showers that wiped out the Thursday morning of the festival for many - its global chief creative officer shared his thoughts on the creative industry while on the windswept beach.

Despite not yet knowing that WPP had stolen the award from last year's winner Omnicom, Reilly was optimistic about the various new Lions categories that have emerged as well as seeing positives in how artificial intelligence (AI) will shape the creative departments of the future.

CS: What do you make of this year's winners?

RR: I feel like this is the most balanced year in terms of ideas that are powered by technology and purposeful ideas. You've sort of got like everything, versus some years when it's been a lot of technology, some years has been all-purpose. This year, it feels like there are so many good ideas that run the gamut of the tone and style of what we do.

CS: Is this because of the new new categories that Cannes Lions has introduced?

RR: I think Cannes has done a very good job of not 'inventing' categories, which some people will say. I say they have shown us the way to go, when it comes to things like commerce, where no one really thought about it. So I think it's a very valuable festival, in a sense of it really shows us the way forward in a lot of ways.

CS: What new categories would you like to see in the future?

RR: Cannes has done a very good job of listening to the agencies and the creative holding companies about what's working, and what's not working, and they change it. I think there will be the category 'Best Use of AI' at some point.

CS: Do you think AI is helping with the new categories?

RR: I don't know about that. I think technology is right, you know, in any way, shape or form. There are ideas that were in our heads that we weren't able to execute, because the technology wasn't there. Now, technology has finally caught up with our art and I think our creative thinking, right? Not the opposite.

I think AI helps us get to places by taking human creativity. And that's what we're in the business of; human creativity, enhanced by AI. And I think that's the way, at least for creative people, there are many uses of AI. But how I see it is, it's an amazing tool, just like the computer was an amazing tool. Digital photography is an amazing tool, but you need the human brain, and the nuance of nuances of understanding what's happening in culture and context, to take it and twist it and turn it into something that people will remember.

CS: How do you think AI is shaping the creative department of the future?

RR: What I think AI has done, and I've talked about this a lot, is the thing that's been removed from our business is time and experimentation. But now I'm able to try things and fail.

You used to have weeks to do things, months to do things. Now we have days to do things. And we used to have money to experiment and fail - we don't have that anymore. So AI allows creative people to take chances and risks and try out things very quickly and then take those through problems, take those kernels of ideas or kernels of design, and then really work on them.

So I think that's the best part of AI for creativity.


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