Faking it!

Spot the difference: A recent study reveals that 50% of consumers can spot AI-generated copy. Can you?

Brief to ChatGPT and professional copywriter: write 100 words about future trends in retail marketing.

Submission 1

In the future, marketing will continue its evolution towards hyper-personalization, leveraging AI and big data for precise targeting. Virtual and augmented reality will redefine customer experiences, allowing immersive interactions with products and brands. Influencer marketing will become even more prevalent, with nano and micro-influencers gaining traction for their authenticity. Sustainability and ethical practices will be paramount, shaping consumer preferences and driving brands to adopt eco-friendly strategies. Interactive content, such as quizzes and polls, will engage audiences and foster community-building. Additionally, voice search optimisation will rise as voice assistants become ubiquitous, altering SEO strategies to accommodate natural language queries.

Submission 2

Picture this imaginary world. Personalised ads that know you better than your best friend! Shopping trips where AR glasses transform every aisle into your perfect pantry or walk-in wardrobe designed just for you – and where you can virtually try on from the comfort of your sofa. Imagine a plastic-less world of eco-conscious consumers that have turned their back on Temu to pay with their conscience not pounds. 

Move over social media influencers. Nano-influencers will be taking the spotlight. Your dog or gerbil could be the next big brand ambassador earning more than you! Get ready for quizzes and polls galore, making marketing feel more like an exciting game you can win rather than a dull sales pitch. And who needs fingers to type? Voice search will have us all chatting to our devices to buy cars and book holidays like old friends.

Soon you won’t have to imagine. This AI world is weaving its way surely but not slowly.

AI attack

An AI apocalypse is taking over the UK. Almost 8 million UK jobs could be lost to artificial intelligence according to a recent report by the IPPR. It warns that women, younger workers and those on lower wages are at most risk from the AI and automation take-over.

Entry level, part-time and administrative jobs are at most risk in this first AI vanguard. So, if you work in database management, scheduling, secretarial work, administration or customer services, it may be time to retrain?

But don’t get complacent all you account managers, creative directors, content creators and copywriters out there. Rapid advances in AI means the rapid extinction of more human jobs in a second wave. According to the IPPR, 59% of tasks in the creative, advertising and marketing world including the creation of databases, copywriting and graphic design could be ousted by faceless robots, codes and algorithms.

But we’ll fight back. We won’t go quietly.

According to research by digital asset management firm Bynder, 26% of consumers find brands using AI for their website copy impersonal. Hoorah.

20% would feel that the brand is lazy if the copy doesn’t feel like it has been written by the human hand. Hear hear.

When it comes to AI-generated social media content, 25% of consumers would feel the brand is impersonal, 20% untrustworthy, 20% lazy and 19% would think they are uncreative. We couldn’t agree more.

When quizzed about reading copy that they suspect is AI-generated, 52% of consumers cited that they would become less engaged. Take that on the chin ChatGPT.

The human touch

In the creative agency world, we are well versed in moving with the times. We’ve ditched marker pens and scamp books and replaced them with Macs. We’ve thrown away our scalpels and Foamex boards and invested in digital presentation platforms.

We are happy to work with AI. We understand what you are bringing to the party. We welcome you. We embrace your ability to make our workflow and scheduling more efficient. We applaud your speedy delivery of exceptional content experiences. We value your robotic, invisible input.

But please don’t step on our creative toes.

Outstanding creativity, engaging copy and captivating design needs the human touch. Brands need people who care. Businesses need creative mavericks that will win them awards. And more loyal customers.

And which client wants a status meeting, a campaign planning brainstorm or a night out with an algorithmic robotic chatbot? Thought not.

P.S. I wrote number 2.

Marketing that gets the royal seal of approval

The Coronation of King Charles III is a momentous occasion for the Royal Family and a cost of living, battle-weary Great Britain. We always love a bit of pomp and ceremony to lift our flailing GB spirits. Any excuse to wave the Union Jack, drink Pimms like pop and throw a quintessentially British street party on the bonus bank holiday with neighbours that we barely speak to 364 days a year. It’s also the perfect excuse for brands, businesses, marketeers and PRs to jump on the State Coronation Coach.

Campaigns fit for a King

The frenzy of marketing activity to celebrate (or capitalise on) King Charles’ Coronation has to be as well planned as the route from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey. From limited edition red, white and blue website takeovers and social media gimmicks to feel-good royal tag lines and community campaigns, PR stunts and newsjacking. From Tesco to Terry’s tea van, everyone wants a slice of the Coronation cake.

But the crowning glory surely goes to Visit Britain with ‘His MajesTEA’. The ‘Spilling the Tea on Great Britain’ campaign uses the stereotype of Britain’s love of tea by showing visitors that ‘whatever your cup of tea, we’ve got it’. PG Tips and Tetley will be spitting out their cup of char that they didn’t think of it sooner.

Major royal events have always been a gift for brands. The opportunities for puns and punches are endless – for getting it so right and so utterly wrong. M&S ‘rebranded’ as ‘Markle and Sparkle’ for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding and McDonald’s even changed their iconic tagline to ‘One’s Lovin It’ to mark the Platinum Jubilee.

But the ‘off with their heads’ PR disaster award goes to Center Parcs who took the unfathomable decision to kick everyone out for the day of the Queen’s funeral. Even the most hardcore anti-monarchist or republican cannot think that making guests with tantrumming toddlers and teenagers pack up and leave their holiday was a positive PR plot.

Standing out in the Coronation crowd

If you’re planning to ride on the coattails of the King’s coronation cloak, here are a few do’s and don’ts. According to the ASA, general references to a royal event or message of congratulations posted on your social media platforms are permissible. However, it is crucial that content does not imply that your service or a product has Royal Family endorsement, or that it is connected to a royal event in any way. So, no claiming that Charles and Camilla will be feasting on your small batch, London Dry Gin infused organic pheasant pate at their wedding breakfast. Especially as they’ll be devouring the good old British delicacy of fish, chips and mushy petit pois surely?

Journalists will be inundated with pitches ahead of the Coronation, so it’s important to find the elusive golden goose to grab media interest. Nostalgia, scandal and tears all sell stories. Did your business get up and running with the help of the Prince’s Trust? Has the King or Queen Consort ever visited your business premises? Are they a patron for a charity you also support? Do you offer products that have the official royal seal of approval? Have staff met members of the Royal Family and have a personal heart-warming story or funny anecdote to share? Any MBEs hanging out in your staffroom?

If not, go for a stalwart royal pun. Or be a complete Coronation ostrich. But avoid the scandal. They’ve had enough of that to deal with. And you want to keep your head, don’t you?

Social media winners and losers during COVID-19

The social media platforms that have performed best – and admirably – during the coronavirus pandemic

When lockdown rules were imposed, we retreated in our droves, mentally and physically preparing ourselves for months of social isolation, away from family and friends.

One thing we could be thankful for during these turbulent times was the fact that we are now living in a technological age, where interaction is just a click away. 

Social media has proved a godsend during the pandemic, with millions of us turning to our smartphones, laptops and tablets to stay in touch with our loved ones, seek solace and distract ourselves from the uncertain world outside. 

Indeed, engagement on social apps has soared during the pandemic, with users logging in to consume news, share content, live stream, video call and mobilise communities. 

Here, we look at how the social app giants reacted and adapted to the ‘new normal’ created by the coronavirus pandemic. 


The undisputed winner in lockdown has to be TikTok, with everyone from teens to baby boomers now acquainted with the video-sharing app. 

The 15-second clip videos first gained popularity amongst teenagers, showing off their latest dance routines or pulling pranks, but TikTok came into its own during the pandemic, offering much-needed escapism to all the generations during a period of doom and gloom.

Although a relatively newcomer to the social space, in Q1 2020, TikTok generated the most downloads for any app ever in a quarter, accumulating more than 315 million installs, according to Sensor Tower.

TikTok is estimated to have now surpassed two billion lifetime downloads – a meteoric rise by any standard. 

Rather than emulating the primped and preened content of Instagram, TikTok is about finding humour in the darkness and giving some light relief to both the creator and the viewer through absurd jokes, quirky dance moves and funny skits.

Unlike Instagram, with its emphasis on glamourous, envy-inducing luxe-living, TikTok can easily be filmed in a bedroom or in the garden – making it accessible and perfect for lockdown living.

Keen to take advantage of this video sharing trend, the UK government has jumped on the TikTok bandwagon, with health secretary Matt Hancock uploading TikTok videos urging people to stay at home and the leadership running health ads on the app. 

There was also the #stayathomechallenge, where NHS workers and TikTok creators urged users to stay indoors and shared exercise routines or cooking tips to pass the time.

Although not primarily a source of news, the app has introduced a range of in-app features, notifications and safety measures specifically designed to elevate credible and accurate information from trusted sources. This demonstrates that although light humour sits at the core of the app, its creators take their responsibilities seriously and understand the impact of their influence. 


It has been a bit of a mixed bag for Twitter

According to Twitter’s Q1 2020 results, the platform saw a strong start to the year, with global monetizable Daily Active Users (mDAU) up 24 per cent from 134 million in the first quarter of 2019, to 166 million in Q1 2020. Total ad engagements increased by 25 per cent year-on-year.

However, coronavirus has hit Twitter’s ad revenues, with advertisers pulling back their spending as they brace for the pandemic’s financial fallout.

Twitter is famous for its ‘stream of consciousness’-style musings, which is arguably less relevant during this time of crisis and not in keeping with the public’s growing need for a sense of community. 

The platform is also known for being a breeding ground for fake news and misinformation, and, with the sheer volume of real-time conversations being had, this can be hard to vet. 

Twitter is taking action, however, and recently announced it would begin adding labels to some tweets to combat misinformation, beginning with tweets about the coronavirus pandemic but eventually about other topics. 

Although tweets would not necessarily be taken down, users would be presented with verified information from the World Health Organization or other medical experts.


With its video functionality, Facebook was poised to do well during lockdown, with the brand holding its own against newer apps, such as Zoom and Houseparty

At the beginning of lockdown, total messaging on Facebook and sister app Whatsapp increased by 50 per cent in some of the hardest hit regions, and video calling doubled in some markets.

However, as these services are not monetised, this uplift in engagement did not translate into increased revenue, and, like other businesses and platforms, Facebook was hit by a decrease in digital ad spend. 

But as the dust settles, brands are starting to cautiously resume their advertising activities. 

Facebook has been one of the social app giants to have adapted quickly to the changing situation and has leveraged its reputation as a community-driven platform during this time.

It also launched the Covid-19 Information Centre, which is an expanded adaptation of its ‘community help’ function.

The Information Centre prioritises conversations in the user’s general area, and includes local information on the real-time numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths, latest news on the virus, links to authoritative bodies’ websites and pages, and coronavirus prevention tips.

Community spirit and social responsibility are two positive things to have emerged from the pandemic and the platform’s ‘offer and request help’ function has helped to facilitate community action.  Stickers and ‘empathy’ emojis also drive home that message of Facebook being a caring, community-minded platform. 


The pandemic served as a sharp shock to many Instagram influencers, as brands pulled back on their sponsorship campaigns.

Sponsored posts on Instagram fell from representing 35 per cent of influencer content in mid-February to 4 per cent of creator content in mid-April, according to a report from the marketing-analytics firm Launchmetrics.

The reaction of some influencers to a drop in their revenue left a bad taste in many people’s mouths and reputations were somewhat tarnished, with an initial backlash against the ‘out-of-touch’ influencer culture. 

Despite this, forced hibernation has meant that engagement has been climbing during the pandemic and the platform continues to perform well. 

When it comes to stopping the spread of misinformation around coronavirus, Instagram is one of the most actively responsible platforms. As well as prioritising verified information from authoritative bodies, the platform is down-ranking posts and stories that have been flagged as false, removing non-credible accounts featuring coronavirus related content from recommendations, and banning misleading ads.

Stickers and hashtags have also been popular and helped to promote a sense of community and shared experience amongst the Instagram audience.  These include the ‘Stay Home’ and ‘I Stay Home For’ stickers and hashtags, to encourage self-isolation and support health workers, and the ‘Support Small Business’ sticker, which helps to promote smaller businesses and encourages users to show their support by ‘shopping small and local’.

Where next?

Social media platforms may be a place of downtime and social interaction for the majority of us, but they are also large corporates with a responsibility to their investors and shareholders to stay afloat during this turbulent period.

Social media users can be fickle. These platforms have had to adapt quickly to keep the attention of their audience and not lose them to a more switched-on or forward-thinking competitor. 

The new features and functions that have been developed gives us insight into how we, as a society, have been shaped by the pandemic, with our need for community, verifiable news, and sociability becoming ever stronger.   Ultimately, it is a numbers game and by catering for the needs and wants of users, social media apps can hang on to their audience for that little while longer.