The Willy Wonka Experience: Dos and Don’ts of Using Generative AI

In November 2022, OpenAI released an early demo of ChatGPT. The demo quickly took the world by storm, causing a seismic shift for creatives across all industries. First met with skepticism and caution, AI has now risen to prominence which only begs the question: how can we use AI in our marketing strategies authentically and responsibly?  

The Willy-Wonka Debacle 

On February 24, the House of Illuminati debuted ‘Willy’s Chocolate Experience’, an immersive event set to live up to the ‘pure imagination’ of the Roald Dahl classic. Priced at £35 a head, guests were promised a grandiose tour filled with ‘delectable chocolate fountains’, ‘whimsical Oompa Loompa performances’ and ‘surprises at every turn’.  

However, much to their surprise, ticketholders were to be greeted with a two-minute walkaround of a half-empty warehouse filled with questionable make-shift props, pegged-up wall-hangings and actors who themselves were trying to make sense of what on earth had gone wrong.  

Some cross parents, tears and news coverage later, this Willy Wonka debacle went viral. 

How was it that a company was able to set up such spectacular expectations to then only fall by the wayside?  

Billy Coull, director of the House of Illuminati, is said to have already published a whopping 17 ChatGPT-written novels. And, this AI ‘strategy’ had also been adopted when founding the House of Illuminati in November 2023. When advertising the event, the House of Illuminati used AI-style images with uncannily written descriptions that make you suspect that a human may not have written this: 

Exhibit A: AI Advertising of the Event vs Reality 

  Creator of Willy Wonka-Themed Experience Apologizes for Failed Event

Exhibit B: An Oddly Worded Description of the ‘Delectable Chocolate Fountains 

Picture yourself standing before cascading chocolate fountains, each velvety stream inviting you to dip, indulge, and savor the richness of Willy Wonka’s world. These delectable fountains are not just a treat for the taste buds; they’re a visual spectacle, creating an atmosphere of chocolatey bliss that permeates the air. 

A Cautionary Tale of Using AI Badly 

Whilst both the uproar and memes that followed the event have been undoubtedly entertaining, the Willy Wonka experience sure has taught us some valuable lessons in how not to use AI… 

Should We Be Using AI in Our Marketing Strategies? 

At the start of 2024, Hootsuite released a report detailing the forecasted prominence of generative AI across social media marketing strategies.  

So far, statistics show that:  

  • 67% of companies use AI to edit and redefine text, with this percentage to increase to 86% in 2024.  
  • 57% of companies use AI to develop new ideas, with the figure predicted to rise to 82% in 2024.  
  • 22% of companies use AI to generate images, with the percentage forecasted to rise to 52% by the end of 2024.  

The consensus regarding the rise in using AI was that companies are indeed going to be factoring AI into their marketing strategies. AI, when used correctly, is ultimately a time and money-saving tool. Though it’s entirely okay to be skeptical about using it at first, the fact of the matter is, it’s not about who or what creates your content anymore, but rather the resulting brand experience for your customer.  

With this in mind, we all need to begin thinking about how we can use AI responsibly whilst protecting our authenticity, talent and brand experience. 

AI Don’ts: 

Don’t Use Generative AI for Factual Answers 

Yes, chatbots have a wealth of information at their fingertips. But, this means that they will only give you the average response they can find on the internet. The average response it gives might be correct… or it might be very, very wrong. ChatGPT will even admit to you that its last software update was in April 2023 and cannot provide real-time information.  

Don’t Use Chat GPT to Write Your Content

Chat GPT is deceptively realistic and at first may spout half a written page that sounds great, but when looked into further, is actually a load of waffle with some pretentious adjectives. Often, if you were to read something written by ChatGPT (see Exhibit B) it sounds off. Writing blogs with a human touch is the best way to keep your content authentic and high quality. 

Keeping your content controlled by humans will also be a great help for the Google rankings. In fact, AI-generated content with zero human oversight is less likely to perform well SEO-wise. For instance, sites that used AI-generated content with no human input dropped eight positions in the SERPs and lost an average of 17% traffic.  

Don’t Share Sensitive Information 

AI has catapulted in the last two years and there has been little to no regulations made in terms of the privacy of any information you input. If you do find yourself using AI, be sure not to offer up any sensitive information.  

Don’t Forget That YOU Are The Expert 

It can be easy to feel disempowered by the rise of generative AI. However, you (the human), must remember that you are ultimately the brand expert. Generative AI will never know your brand as well as the person working inside the business, or the PR agency for that matter. Generative AI will not be able to get its hands on what goes on inside client meetings, who exactly your niche target audience is, future business plans and your team’s collaborative brand vision. To put it simply, AI took the wheel for the Willy-Wonka experience and look what happened… 

AI Dos: 

Use AI As Your New Virtual Assistant 

If you find you are a little stuck and under time constraints for thinking of a new content idea, you can use bots to brainstorm ideas and suggest content, as you would do with a colleague. But remember that bots only ingest what is already out there, so you will need to keep in mind whether the ideas it generates will actually be innovative and trendy.  

Keep It Human 

A personal touch will always go a long way, especially in today’s hybrid-online society. So, keep interacting with comments, shouting out influencers, reposting what’s popular, ensuring posts are up to brand standards and collaborating (with humans) toward a niche content strategy.  

Be Specific 

Should you use AI when generating ideas or drafting social media captions, it is recommended to keep an AI style guide. When feeding AI your demands, be sure to cover the tone, style, type of photography you’d like and who your target audience is. It is also a good idea to share the style guide amongst colleagues so your bot will output cohesive information.  

Think About Your Audience 

AI has been met with a lot of skepticism. In fact, 33% of baby boomers (dob. 1946-1964) say they are less likely to engage with something if they know it has been created by AI. On the other hand, only 20% of Gen Z (dob. 1997-2012) said they are less likely to engage with something if they know it has been AI-generated.  

Furthermore, AI is very good at generalising, but you are good at personalising. What AI can’t do is really get to know your target audience. Be sure to know exactly who your brand’s audience is, what they like, where they live, what stage of life they are in, their buying habits, language, age, etc. You can use AI to generate ideas as a starting point, but you can run away with those ideas and tailor them to suit your bespoke brand needs.  

At Source PR, we work collaboratively toward personalised strategies that best suit your brand’s needs. If your business is looking for an experienced team of marketing professionals that can help attract, influence and engage with all types of bespoke audiences, click here to find out more.