The Drum | Do Ads Have To Be Real? Marketing Execs Weigh In On Viral Tricks And Fakes

Sarah Jenkins, partner and executive vice president, The Romans New York: “As creative marketers, we’re in the business of imagination. We develop brand campaigns based on insights that strike a chord with aspects of consumers’ personalities (often a playful side): ideas that push us to think beyond what’s possible. We should never, ever limit ourselves to traditional reality, because that would stifle the curiosity that’s critical for creative evolution.

“When you’re working on a campaign that has potential negative impact, you have a responsibility to disclose when things are generated by AI. But let’s not hold back from exploring the what-ifs. Consumers of all ages are craving levity; often, that comes from the powerful escapism of make-believe. Just proceed with caution, consider negative impact, and act in a way that doesn’t pose risk to individuals or groups.”

Henry Challender, associate creative director, Bray Leino: “Realness is blurry. Neither physicist nor philosopher can tell you what reality ‘really’ is. Some people (hey Elon) even contend it’s all a big simulation. But before we get into a metaphysical pickle, let’s agree on the everyday distinction between ‘real’ (genuine, authentic, true) and ‘fake’ (false, deceitful, artificial). On those terms, it’s hard to claim marketing’s ever real. Artifice is almost always baked into the deal. Are we being ‘real’ when pricing something 99p rather than £1? When we retouch that burger?

“Even the worthiest purpose-led campaign may be tinged with an ulterior motive. AI brings new toys for tricksters, making it easier to be wilfully deceptive. As the line between the real and the fake gets blurrier, perhaps transparency will set the good actors apart from the bad. But maybe the fun is in not being quite sure.”

Jordan Dale, creative director, Amplify: “Did people think that John Lewis actually sent a man

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