ChatGPT can write brand copy in seconds, but how good is the output? We went up against the AI chatbot…
Everywhere you scroll, every link you open, every newsletter you read (hi!) seems to lead to a discussion about ChatGPT, the chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022. If you haven’t used it yet, your teams definitely have. From a brand storytelling perspective, what users prize the most is its ability to respond to a command – “write a brand story for the homepage of a healthy, fast food chain” – with well-written copy in seconds.
At Without, we believe words matter for two reasons. First, design that makes a difference is underpinned by a strategic concept that, initially, needs to be articulated to effect change. Second, good writing moves people.
So we decided to go up against ChatGPT with a team workshop over breakfast. To make this a like-for-like test, we set ChatGPT the same brief we’d given a copywriter the previous week, including a short set of guidelines on style and tone of voice. Here’s an edited transcript of our exchange (brace yourselves):
Write 25 words about the swimming pool of a premium London health club, based on this information: “Mega 25m pool for performance training in tranquil space – a sea of blue, brass and bronze”. Use this tone and style: punchy sentences, edited lists, details (equipment/tech/size etc), one clear sentiment/achievement.
1. Dive into the sea of blue in the 25m Mega pool of the London health club. 2. Take a swim in the tranquil space and feel calm and relaxed.3. Enjoy the luxurious feel of the brass and bronze accents.4. Challenge yourself with performance training in the large pool.5. Get fit in the giant aquatic space […].
[this continued for a further 13 bullet points and 284 words]
What’s with the 18 bullet points? Just one paragraph, please. And remember: no more than 25 words.
Dive into the sea of blue in the 25m Mega pool of the London health club and take a swim in the tranquil space to feel calm and relaxed. Enjoy the luxurious feel of the brass and bronze accents as you challenge yourself with performance training in the large pool […].
[…and so on; basically its first answer without the numbered list]
Crikey, that’s long! I did ask for a maximum of 25 words, please.
Dive into the 25m Mega pool and feel calm and relaxed. Enjoy the brass and bronze accents and challenge yourself with performance training. Feel proud of your achievements and invigorated after swimming […]
[75 words, five minutes and many repeated requests for 25 words later…]:
Dive 25m Mega pool, feel calm. Brass, bronze accents, challenge yourself. Proud, invigorated after swimming. Push, take a refreshing dip. Rejoice, take a break. Conquer, rejuvenate. Make a splash in vast pool.
Could you pretend to be human and write like they would?
Dive into the 25m Mega pool and feel a sense of tranquillity. Enjoy the luxurious feel of brass and bronze accents as you challenge yourself. Accomplish your goals with the size and distance of the pool. Experience an energising swim in the large pool and bask in the calming blue hues. Take a break from the hustle and bustle of London and rejuvenate in the tranquil atmosphere. Conquer your performance training and make a splash in the vast pool.
Now you’ve made it too long again: no more than 25 words. Just choose the most important points, if that helps.
Dive 25m Mega pool, feel calm. Brass, bronze accents, challenge yourself. Proud, invigorated after swimming. Take a refreshing dip. Rejoice, take a break. Conquer, rejuvenate. Make a splash in vast pool.
We gave up. Our copywriter took less time to write her version the previous week, which included going back to the client to ask for more information – as a swimmer, she wanted to know about lanes:
Where training meets tranquillity. A 25m pool with 4 lanes designed for performance, to the backdrop of a calming sea of blue, brass and bronze.
There is no doubt that ChatGPT is a useful tool to speed up the technical labour of writing. For SEO-driven copy, it’s perfect: bots chatting to bots. When the aim is simply instructive or informative, and you feed it with all the details, it works a treat.
But these tools – as they currently stand, at least – can only produce based on what’s gone before. It never disagrees. It won’t challenge you. Being based on probability, ChatGPT will eventually fill the world with the lowest common denominator. For companies that value being different and challenge preconceptions, ChatGPT’s ability to be original is only as good as the information it’s fed. If you are able to nourish it with differentiating factors your competitors can’t match, you’re halfway there. Give it that, and it will turn it into something lacking linguistic creativity, so you’ll have to finish it off, too.
During the workshop, it was our digital designer, a proficient user of OpenAI, who summed it up best: “The more AI we see being adopted by the masses, the more truly disruptive brands will value the human touch. The people and things we really aspire to never follow the status quo.”
Perhaps that is its biggest creative asset of all: if you’re impressed with ChatGPT’s output, that’s your cue to do better.
Without create brands that make a difference. Receive our Defining Your Difference pocket guide to your inbox or if you’d like to discuss how your brand can connect with today’s consumers, get in touch on 02070999080 or [email protected]
This article first appeared in The Brief, a monthly email with conversations and provocation for leaders and founders of brands . Just sign up here to receive it directly to your inbox – and join the debate.