Render vs. Reality - What could Generative AI mean for Experiences?

3rd August, 2023

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few months, you’ll agree that the initial combination of excitement and ambivalence surrounding Generative AI is here to stay.  

From music to manufacturing, film to finance, Generative AI is making its mark across pretty much every industry. Closer to home, across the advertising landscape and our WPP family, generative AI is redefining the ways in which brands can generate original content.  

Experiential is no stranger to the innate opportunities and possibilities that new technology and innovation poses. And whilst the inherent tactility of brand experiences isn’t going anywhere, it’d be naive to think Generative AI won’t have some sort of impact on both experiences, and the way brands and agencies work to conceive, design, and deliver them in the future.  

Whilst traditional AI focuses more on detecting patterns and finding needles in haystacks of data to inform decision making (making it historically more relevant for other marketing channels), Generative AI poses a challenge closer to home for experiential by being able to craft original visual content and text at an unequivocally rapid rate, surpassing that of humans.       

With that, we figured it best to hear it from the horse's mouth. We picked Chat GPT’s generative brain to explore what the tech itself predicts generative AI’s role in experiential to be, and asked our CCO, Guy Tremlett to respond with his perspective to offer food for thought.  

Set Creative: What does generative AI mean for experiential marketing? 

ChatGPT: In the context of experiential marketing, generative AI can have several implications: 

Content creation: Generative AI can be used to create compelling and unique content for experiential marketing campaigns. For example, AI algorithms can generate custom visuals, videos, or music that align with a brand's identity and messaging.  

Guy: Generative AI undoubtedly has the power to influence the ideation of brand experiences - we’re using it daily in place of swipe / inspiration imagery. Tools like midjourney effectively enable us to create a 2d render of a creative idea in an instant, and with striking accuracy. BUT, whilst AI generated content may suffice as an acceptable creative asset for an early stage presentation, it’s currently most definitely not of use for the next stage. Our ideas need to work in a real-world space - they need to stand up, work with sight lines, deal with different audience sizes - along with a host of other practical considerations (as well as fitting within a budget). Working within these physical parameters is what makes creativity in experiential marketing unique compared to other channels. Unrealistic, unbuildable & unsafe creative ideas have long existed in the world of physical events, and with Generative AI, it may just mean having to navigate through more noise before landing at a realistic idea.    

We briefed mid journey to recreate our work for the Google beach at Cannes in 2022, with strikingly similar results. Render (right) vs. reality (left).

ChatGPT: Interactive experiences: Generative AI can enable interactive experiences where the content adapts and responds to user inputs or real-time data. For instance, AI algorithms can generate real-time personalized recommendations, visuals, or stories based on user preferences, behaviors, or location.  

Guy: Making physical experiences more personal is proven to be effective when creating relationships with guests - anything AI can do to improve this is a benefit. Recognising a guest, knowing where they are in the experience and then adapting the space to improve / personalize their experience has huge potential. But we’re not quite there yet, it will be interesting to see how the next generation of models open up different inputs and connect to other existing tracking technology - in short how do we create experiences that end up with an input that goes beyond merely typing?!  

ChatGPT: Data-driven insights: Generative AI can analyze large volumes of data from various sources, such as social media, consumer feedback, or market trends, to generate valuable insights for experiential marketing strategies.  

Guy: Measurability is always a key challenge in experiential, in large part due to the qualitative nature of brand experiences. If there's a way AI can, for example, help analyze the social output around an event - linking users to the content they share in order to, generate common POV’s or opinions based on collective data, that would be amazing. Any additional insight into how far the impact of real-world events extend into other channels including social media would spell opportunity for experiential marketing.  

Chat GPT concludes: Generative AI opens up new creative possibilities and enables marketers to deliver personalized, interactive, and captivating experiential marketing campaigns. By leveraging AI-generated content and insights, brands can create unique and memorable experiences that engage consumers on a deeper level, foster brand loyalty, and drive positive business outcomes.  

To wrap up, it’s worth remembering that technology has always been in flux. From digital screens to social media, tech has always evolved, and we’ve always adapted. In the future, Generative AI will no doubt affect the way people both participate in brand experiences, and the way agencies conceive, design, and deliver them. 

Guy Tremlett is Set Creative’s Chief Creative Officer, Based in London. 

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This article was published on 3rd August, 2023.