Will & Simon BBH

CSO Fight: AI Edition

BBH joint CSOs, Will Lion and Simon Gregory, go into a public 'battle' in a regular monthly column. They kick off with AI

By Will Lion and Simon Gregory

We invited BBH’s joint CSOs Will and Gregory to dissect, discuss and debate key issues that are happening right now. In their first column for Creative Salon they discuss AI.

From why AI is the perfect cliché finder to the creative mutation that AI might impact to WPP Nvidia partnership to how to avoid legal risks - they wrangle about all of it.

Will Lion: If you hadn’t got it from a frothing LinkedIn, AI is…

Simon Gregory: You like this because you’re a robot don’t you?

Will: I am simply representing my people.

Gregory: Ok, so we’ve all been using it for a few months now. You want to take the case for and I’ll take the case against.

Will: Let’s go.

Gregory: Isn’t it just a composite of all human knowledge so it's really just all the things that have been done before?

Will: Yes, in many ways it’s the perfect cliche finder. But it also cuts to the chase a lot more quickly if you ask it the right things.

Gregory: But actually useful information or the impression of it?

Will: Yeah, it’s well read but not very clever. Like that kid at school that read everything, understood nothing and did well at exams and then came undone in life.

Gregory: Are you telling a story about yourself?

Will: …

Gregory: But I like that it’s something to flush out all of the obvious answers. Feels like it’s a way to create uber relevance without distinctiveness? Like crime thrillers in airport bookstores or Coldplay. Or poor ad-tracking. What if you wanted something more distinctive?

Will: You’d just ask the AI for distinctiveness.

Gregory: Then wouldn’t everyone do that? Is it more a leg up to creativity vs its replacement?

Will: This does highlight something important. AI may be a motorbike for the mind, cutting corners on boring creative tasks (look at Photoshop’s Generative Fill this month), opening up new roads of inspiration and widening the range of ideas we can get to. However, what happens when everyone has motorbikes? Neural networks trained on the same data will give the same outputs. The only way to find difference is either get there first, have more compute power or train it on a bespoke dataset. When everyone has AI tools, human ingenuity must re-engage again to find the uncharted space.

Gregory: Hence WPP and Nvidia’s move. Or Google’s recent move to run AI on their ads data to help you with a chat UI to make better ads.

Will: Exactly. Compute and custom data set in one.

Gregory: Smart. But on the publicly available AIs, don’t we just run the massive risk of surrendering a load of sensitive data to Big Tech, violating GDPR and generally exposing our clients to loads of risk.

Will. There I think you are right. It’s why we should experiment enthusiastically but be legally buttoned down. It’s also why we might start seeing companies brokering deals with AI services to offer ‘safe spaces’ to access Large Language Models (LLM) platforms and get results that don’t have the legal risk or the data surrender.

Gregory: Anyway those Balengicia mashups were fun. But that style of AI creative is going to get boring pretty soon right?

Will: Maybe that exact thing. But look at Unreal Engine. Look at the pipeline for GPT 5, which will include video. Anything is going to be possible.

Gregory: But this is a way off right now isn’t it.

Will: I think it’s going to be upon us sooner than we might think. First, it will be the little things. Changing number plates to suit the local market. Showing different foods for regional tastes.

Gregory: Like how everyone across the country likes different things on their chips…

Will: Exactly. Then characters will change. Sets. Language. Creativity is going to mutate at first. Then I do see a path to fully automated production that is indistinguishable from real life in the coming years.

Gregory: But the idea is safe, right, riiiight?

Will: For now.

Gregory: How long is ‘now’

Will: …

Greg and Will, if they haven’t been automated, will return next month for a fight about creating a kind high performance culture.


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