Making it happen since 1988

A sort of review of the year.

By Adam Reynolds on Nov 15, 2016

One of my favourite industry stories of 2016 involves the possibility of being replaced sometime in the future by Persado. If you haven’t heard, they’re the ad-tech company with automated copywriting software. Or in their own words, a cognitive content platform. Which sounds much better than SpamBot 2000.

In this brave new world, according to their co-founder, “Persado is revolutionising how organisations communicate by propelling creativity into the data-driven age, arming brands with ‘smart content’ that resonates with any audience, every time, and inspires them to act.” Feel the warmth and humanity of that statement wash over you.

Sound-tracked by Ride of the Valkyries, Persado’s infallible algorithms will annihilate us wasteful marketing humans. Drunk on dizzyingly high ROIs, CMOs will shovel objectives into the machine. Out the other end it fires the precise combination of words, phrases and images to motivate. RA-TA-TAT-RA-TA-TAT. Entire demographics become zombie-consumers. Dutifully doing the bidding of their new AI masters. Buy, tweet, repeat. Buy, tweet, repeat. All while floating around on hover chairs like the beanbag-shaped folks in WALL-E.

Perhaps they’re also secretly behind some of the more nonsensical straplines brands have adopted this year. Ironically ignoring its own legacy by casting aside an insight that informed years of great work, Stella Artois now invites us to Be Legacy. Imagine the smart content, data-driven conversations SpamBot 2000 could have as it scours the internet for references. As you drink strong, continental lager from a chalice, you too can #BeLegacy, affluent wife-beater.

Maybe SpamBot didn’t get the memo. Emotion trumps reason. The two biggest stories of the year, Brexit and the US Presidential election, prove it. When it comes to moving the masses, trying to fight feelings with facts is as pointless as bald men fighting over a comb. We’re an emotional bunch. Ready to be filled with joy and riddled with anger. Yank our chains and watch us go. Why do you think the John Lewis Christmas ads are so successful?

So sorry, SpamBot, we won’t be rolling over just yet. As Dave Trott noted on the subject, an algorithm can’t come up with Popeye.