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Revolutionizing Creativity: Jaz Lee of Ogilvy Asia on AI and Data-Driven Transformation

Let’s set the record straight: artificial intelligence (AI), while not new, is a revolutionary tool that constantly evolves alongside human innovation. Transformative as it is disruptive, AI is set to change the way we work as well as the way we think.

But it won’t replace humanity anytime soon.

Think about it—what makes stand-out content so memorable? It’s because of its resonance and relevance. And what makes clickbait and sensationalism so intriguing to us, even when we know their purpose is to provoke a response? It’s because of human interest and human emotion. We react, and that is vital for the views, the clicks, and the likes (or dislikes). Human intuition, empathy, creativity, and the ability to ideate are key things that make up the foundation of creating such content.

From automating mundane tasks to generating personalised content and insights, AI algorithms can analyse vast amounts of data and uncover market patterns, consumer preferences, and even real-time events in an industry itself to reflect one’s brand performance. This helps inform brands and industry players’ creative decisions, enabling creatives to create more personalised, impactful campaigns with increased efficiency. It can also help develop predictive models that can forecast trends and consumer behaviour.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t ethical issues and precautions that industry players need to consider when using such sophisticated tech. It’s a cliché saying, but with “great power, comes great responsibility”—and for brands, it’s privacy. Using AI to collect and analyse consumer data involves the trust of your audiences, and to build said trust, brands must be transparent about the data they collect and how they use it, ensuring that they are compliant with data privacy laws and regulations.

In terms of the creative industry and its players, it bears saying that “automated content creation” is still a morally grey area. With how AI can automate tasks, there is a risk that many jobs may become redundant, so it falls on the industry players to be aware of this risk and to retrain and upskill their workforce, ensuring that they have the necessary skills to work alongside AI effectively. Business leaders need to remember that AI programmes are a tool that can collaborate with their workforce, so that not only is their output more efficient, but a culture of innovation and experimentation can now be fostered as creatives can now focus on high-level tasks like ideation and strategy.

For award-winning creative Jaz Lee, one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and Ogilvy’s Creative Director, he believes that “AI will never, ever out-human a human”. Here’s why:

What are your two cents on the recent developments of AI in the creative industry?

Jaz Lee: AI has been the backbone of many industries for the longest time. What’s changed, however, is how it’s made its way mainstream, thanks to platforms like MidJourney, ChatGPT and so on. These platforms are what has made AI more accessible for everyone to experience. It’s not a buzzword anymore—it’s real, it’s powerful, and like it or not, it’s here to stay.

So, the billion-dollar question here is this: is it a good thing for businesses and their employees?


Does that mean we’re out of the woods yet? Yes and no.

How so? And what about the fears surrounding AI then?

J: There are a lot of concerns surrounding AI and how it can take away jobs from the human workforce, but the truth is, that will never happen. AI can’t replace humans, and vice versa. Both can play strong, complementary roles with one another, so what we need right now is to co-exist with one another, which, we haven’t quite nailed just yet. And that uncertainty of where we stand is where the fear stems from.

Innovation, admittedly, comes at a cost. It will render some jobs redundant as companies will look to replace the mundane and repetitive tasks with AI, but it will open up millions of new ones, and create new industries!

It’s innovations like this that force the world to evolve; it’s either we evolve with it or get left behind forever. That’s how progress happens.

We can choose to look at AI as a threat, or an opportunity. The key to evolve along that innovation is to find a way where AI and humans can co-exist and complement one another. You can choose to look at AI platforms as a threat to your job, or a reality check on how you can improve yourself to be irreplaceable.

What of the creative industry then? How will it impact its players?

J: For creatives and the industry itself, it will force us to be idea-driven again. To focus on what truly makes us human: our intuition, creativity, and empathy. The same things that make our industry great to begin with, and what we lost in recent years, thanks to our over-reliance on gimmicks and tricks like using new technologies to compensate for our lack of ideas. It’s time for us to face the music.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all that dire. You can see some hope taking shape in companies that use AI to optimise their workflow by having it on simple, yet time-consuming tasks, which has increased productivity for businesses and their employees.

What are some AI tools you use yourself? How has it helped Ogilvy grow?

J: My chief creative officer, Adrian, and I play around with MidJourney and ChatGPT quite a bit. It’s hard enough having to be constantly creative, but it’s even tougher when you’re doing it on a deadline. We power through plenty of ideas in minutes, but by using these platforms and feeding it prompts, it helps us speed up the process by allowing us to see whether an idea has potential or not in seconds. Key takeaway? It doesn’t work unless you have an idea. Innovation and ideation has always been human, and that will never change.

So, in terms of the creative industry, what are some exemplary use cases for AI that you’ve seen and have referred to?

J: One of the most impressive things about the advertising and creative industry is how fast we implement new tech into our work. One day, you hear about this new platform that can generate images in seconds just using AI, and the next day, a campaign is out using said new tech. It’s impressive.

Here are some of my favourites:

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