Did Robots Really Write Kayak’s Latest Ad Campaign?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Patrick Coffee’s Wall Street Journal piece headlined “Robots Turn Creative as AI Helps Drive Ad Campaigns,” when I came across this passage.

Kayak worked with New York advertising agency Supernatural Development LLC, whose internal AI platform combines marketers’ answers to questions about their business with consumer data drawn from social media and market research to suggest campaign strategies, then automatically generates ideas for advertising copy and other marketing materials.

Supernatural’s AI found that Kayak should target its campaign largely toward young, upper-income men, who it said would respond to humor about Americans’ inability to agree on basic facts in politics and pop culture, said Michael Barrett, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Supernatural.

Tell the truth, Doc – are robots going to take over the world?

– Robby

Dear Robby,

The Doc doesn’t know from robots taking over the world, but they sure might take over advertising if the Kayak spots are any indication.

As the Journal piece noted, “[most] travel ads focused on ‘the family reunion space, soft piano music, the get-together on the beach,’ said Matthew Clarke, vice president of North American marketing for the Booking Holdings Inc. company. Kayak took a different approach with the ‘Kayak Deniers’ campaign, which went live in January and poked fun at the rise of online conspiracy theories.”

To wit:

Beyond that, there’s this totally depressing news from marketing technology website MarTechSeries.

Waymark, a pioneer in using artificial intelligence to scale up video production, has launched a revolutionary AI-powered tool that allows users to create ads in minutes with no creative expertise required. Waymark AI Video Creator empowers local media companies to instantly create high-quality ads and get them to air quickly, shortening sales cycles and creating new opportunities for growth with local businesses.

So that’s umpteen ad guys and gals soon to be pounding the pavement.

Then there’s Patrick Kulp’s piece in Adweek documenting Heinz-sight in ketchup advertising.

Heinz Taps State-of-the-Art AI to Design Its Next Ad Campaign

Heinz tapped an artificial intelligence-powered art generator to create a clever demonstration of the ubiquity of its brand in the condiment aisle.

The company’s marketing team fed a series of generic ketchup-related prompts into research group OpenAI’s state-of-the-art machine learning algorithm, Dall-E 2, which conjures up eerily detailed images from simple text inputs.

The results are all over the place—from a Tron-like neon-shaded bottle to a cute container in the shape of a dog—but the one commonality is that most seemed to have adopted the trademark fringe, shape and lettering of a Heinz label.

The Doc’s diagnosis? It’s time for copywriters and art directors to catch up. How they do that, though, might take some machine learning.

How Is Herschel Walker Still a Viable Candidate for U.S. Senate?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Politico Playbook, when I came across this item.

AD WARS — The most striking new political ad this week is the Republican Accountability PAC’s spot against Georgia GOP Senate nominee HERSCHEL WALKER, which features his ex-wife describing domestic abuse in shocking detail: “The first time he held the gun to my head, he held the gun to my temple, and said he was gonna blow my brains out.” It’s a six-figure ad buy in Georgia from the anti-Trump GOP group, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein.

Seriously, Doc – this guy might become a U.S. Senator? What the hell?

– Gun Shy

Dear Gun Shy,

Herschel Walker’s not the only looney toon among the current GOP crop of U.S. Senate candidates. Check out this bookend from New York Times columnist Michelle Cottle headlined, Why Is Ron Johnson Still Competitive Despite, You Know, Everything?

But back to Walker. Here’s the spot from the Republican Accountability PAC, spearheaded by the redoubtable Sarah Longwell.

The spot comes hard on the heels of this viral video from the Republican Accountability Project in which Walker 1) falsely claims he was an F.B.I. agent, 2) tells a story about heading down Route 183 to kill a man who disrespected him, 3) asks the Lord to help him, 4) walks toward the truck to kill the guy, and 5) sees a bumper sticker on the truck that says Honk If You Love Jesus.

“And that’s what calmed me down,” Walker concludes.

The Doc – who did seven years in the Midwest – always preferred the bumper sticker Honk If You Are Jesus.

But de gustibus, yeah?

Really? Americans Think Advertisers Are More Trustworthy Than the News Media?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and checking out MediaPost’s Marketing Politics Weekly, when I came across this Joe Mandese piece about the industries Americans trust most.

Americans Deem Ad Biz More Trustworthy Than Media, Both Trail All Other Industries

The good news is that as far as brands go, the ad industry is deemed more trustworthy than much of the media it buys to reach consumers. The bad news is that the ad business, “news media,” and “social media” all rank at the bottom of all brand categories American consumers were asked to rate as trusting “a great deal” recently.

The findings, which were announced Tuesday via a press release from brand researcher Brand Keys noting that “media brand trust took a nosedive” in its most recent tracking study, which surveyed 6,850 U.S. adults in July.

What the hell, Doc – hucksters get more respect than government officials and journalists? That’s messed up, yo.

– Trust Busted

Dear TB:

Wait – so this survey is saying that a buck hustler like Spike Lee is more trustworthy than, say, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt? That would be the same Spike Lee whose ad last year for Coin Cloud conned untold numbers of Black people into investing in cryptocurrencies.

Lee brazenly played the race card in touting crypto’s currency: “Old money, as rich as it looks, is flat out broke,” he says in the video, which has garnered about 1.5 million views on YouTube. “They call it green, but it’s only white. Where’s the women? The Black folks? And the people of color?”

Where the Black folks and people of color are, according to Madeline Garfinkle’s Entrepreneur piece last month, is in the red.

‘We’re the First Group Who Loses Out’: Black Americans Hit Hard By Crypto Collapse

As digital currencies continue to fall, a new report found Black investors to be disproportionately vulnerable.

Digital currencies have dropped drastically, with bitcoin alone losing more than 50% of its value this year.

With consistent reports of plunging value, the question looms: Who’s really getting hit?

A study by Ariel Investments found that, on average, Black Americans own significantly more cryptocurrency than their white counterparts. About one quarter (25%) of Black Americans own crypto, and when examining investors under the age of 40, that number jumps to 38%.

The Black community, Garfinkle adds, has a longstanding distrust of the establishment financial system. Crypto offers “[the] draw of gaining financial independence with a low barrier to entry . . . further enhanced by celeb endorsements.”

So, to recap: Americans apparently believe that Mr. Do The Wrong Thing, who has leeched off widespread losses by Black investors in cryptocurrencies, is more credible than, say, CNN’s Don Lemon?

That’s gotta leave a sour taste, no?

Will ‘Who the F–k Is Greg?’ Viral Ad Help Sink Greg Abbott in Texas Gov Race?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and tooling around Vanity Fair, when I came across this piece by Kelly Rissman about a digital ad getting a lot of attention in the Lone Star state.

An ad criticizing Texas Governor Greg Abbott has gone viral, emphasizing his harsh abortion laws, as his re-election campaign presses on.

The ad by Mothers Against Greg Abbott PAC—the “other ‘MAGA’”—depicts a doctor telling a pregnant woman and her partner that their child has “a catastrophic brain abnormality,” and will suffer horrifically, experiencing seizures and choking on her own fluids; she will only live a few hours, if she survives at all. The doctor says he will need a decision on termination, but can’t advise the couple: “I wish I could tell you what to do, but there’s only one person who can make this choice — and that person is Greg.”

What’s the deal here, Doc, in your professional opinion?

– Death and Texas

Dear D&T,

Once again we need to begin with this Federally mandated warning: Dr. Ads is not a licensed physician.

Whatever.

The ad refers to Texas’s bounty-hunter abortion law, “SB 8, a law that [allows] private citizens to sue anyone who ‘aids or abets’ performing abortions” after the sixth week of a pregnancy. That deeply cynical piece of legislation, designed to short-circuit any judicial oversight, is taken to its imagined extreme in the Mothers Against Greg Abbott ad.

While Vanity Fair’s Rissman says the ad “probably won’t help the governor’s re-election campaign,” the Real Clear Politics polling average in the race has Abbott up by six points over Democrat Beto O’Rourke, 47.8% to 41.8% (although the most recent poll – Quinnipiac’s in early June – had Abbott up by five).

The Texas Newsroom’s Sergio Martinez-Beltran reported this yesterday on NPR’s All Things Considered.

On immigration, guns, abortion and just about every other issue, Beto O’Rourke and Abbott have polar opposite views. And O’Rourke is trying to get the votes of Republicans and independents who are turned off by Abbott’s rhetoric. O’Rourke is seeing some gains. The latest statewide polls show him trailing Abbott by just five points. O’Rourke also outraised Abbott by $4 million in the last fundraising period. However, Abbott has more money than O’Rourke.

O’Rourke is clearly hoping the voters of Texas will be asking “Where the F–k Is Greg?” after November 8th.