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Earlier this month, Channel 4 reached out to us again, after already being part of their  ‘content creative’ programme, to involve us in their new online artificial intelligence series: ‘’Can AI take our jobs?’’

For our part in the series, AI (curated by a Sophie, a C4 journalist with no AI knowledge and her AI specialist mentor) and us, The Behaviours Agency were both been given the same brief: to create an FMCG brand in 48 hours that will be live tested on the streets of Manchester and a winner announced.

As a creative agency who specialise in behavioural science, creativity and human psychology but already utilise AI within creative processes, we eagerly jumped at the chance for our team of experienced AI-using humans to go head to head with AI to create an FMCG brand (once the initial  ‘oh god what if we lose’  panic had subsided).

As the agency world knows, creating a brand name, logo, a strapline, bottle label and an ad concept would not normally take 48 hours but due to our agile approach, we were able to take on this challenge in a sprint-style abridged version of our normal process with decisions made on the hoof with all the key agency departments in one place at one time.

Here’s some of the things we considered rapidly…

  • Where the product sits in the market. How do you compete/win and at what price point?

  • What consumer motivation do we want to tap into, a quick mapping exercise using our behavioural tools to reveal a gap in the market to explore.

  • Where is it going to be sold, what matters to the retailers, what are the category cues and rules – what do we need to keep or change?

  • Finding a distinctive and available name by combining our naming spectrum technique along with AI to generate 100’s of names but then used our experience in strategy, branding & due diligence to check it didn’t already exist to rule out the ones that wouldn’t work.

  • And finally designing a brand that would be distinctive and top of mind, the fundamentals to any new brands’ success.

We know AI would be able to create a brand but we were less convinced AI would consider the retail environment and behaviour of shoppers to be able to create a brand that is truly shelf worthy and distinctive.  So, in order to maintain that competitive edge, we had to continually ask ourselves what would AI do or what would AI not do to stay one step ahead.

The fateful day arrived when we got to reveal to each other our finishing work….

Sophie’s AI-generated brand poster featured an eye-catching image but fell short in understanding shopper preferences and featured a model donning six fingers, elongated toes, and a name better suited for suncream.

Our ad poser, whilst still striking, was praised at the fact it explained that the product was, the ingredients, consistent message to the bottle label and a CTA…fundamentals to an Ad campaign but something AI didn’t consider.

It was now time to take it to the streets of Manchester to ask the public what they think and which one they preferred! Aaaarh

Although this type of research and insight gathering is a really useful part of the process, it’s a minor part. What people say on the street and what they do at the point of purchase are usually very different. At the shelf, they’re thirsty, they’re in a hurry, they’re staring at a load of familiar brands and tastes, and our product has to appeal against that backdrop.

Of course, It is really exciting to have won because it gives weight to our process, our understanding of the audience, the market and the motivations of the buyer and also demonstrates our years of collective experience but we understand and will continue to embrace AI as just another string to our bow.

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By Sue Benson

Managing Director