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McCann’s Valerie Madon discusses human-centric creativity in the age of AI at Adfest 2024

PATTAYA, THAILAND — Valerie Madon, Chief Creative Officer at McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific and a featured speaker at ADFEST 2024, shared her insights on the evolving relationship between human creativity and artificial intelligence (AI) in an exclusive sit-down with adobo Magazine.

Valerie began by addressing the question of whether AI and human creativity are engaged in a battle for supremacy. She emphasized that while AI has become an incredibly useful tool in the advertising industry, it should not be viewed as a replacement for human creativity. Instead, she advocated for a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines, leveraging AI to enhance creativity rather than supplant it.

Valerie pointed to AI’s potential to streamline visual production processes, allowing creative teams to generate visuals and draft case study videos with unprecedented speed and efficiency. However, she noted that AI’s current capabilities are limited in ideation, often producing average ideas that lack the novelty and emotional resonance of human-generated concepts.


“When it comes to AI, I think we all use it. But the question is, how do we use it, and what do you use it for? We’ve tried it in so many ways, and what we’ve realized is it’s not really superior. It comes up with the most average ideas,” shared Valerie. “Our hypothesis is that AI is still trying to learn from all of us or learning from past campaigns. Naturally, then, it would probably spit out stuff that we’ve heard of before.”

Valerie cited examples of campaigns that effectively integrated AI while preserving the human touch. She discussed the importance of infusing campaigns with human intelligence and emotional depth, arguing that AI alone cannot replicate the nuanced understanding of human experiences and emotions that drive compelling storytelling.

Addressing the future of creativity in an AI-powered landscape, Valerie explained the need for AI to evolve beyond its current role as a tool for replication and scaling. While AI excels at automating mundane tasks, Valerie expressed hope for advancements enabling AI to provide deeper insights and predictions, complementing human creativity rather than overshadowing it.

Valerie circled back to her ADFEST talk, aptly titled “Battle of talents: Human versus machine.” She said, “Remember that the difference between humans and robots is that we have a heart. If you can’t feel, then you also can’t create work that anticipates what consumers will feel. AI can’t go ‘This video is going to make people cry or make people fall in love.

“As human creators, we think and ideate with objectives in mind. These objectives usually involve emotions. From that aspect, I think AI can do a lot of logical analysis and processing, but it will never be able to do an emotional side of our job.”

Valerie elaborated on her approach, which focuses on empathy and understanding the consumer’s perspective. She told adobo Magazine about the practice of immersing herself in the experiences of others to grasp their concerns and daily thoughts. According to Valerie, this method goes beyond merely living their lives; it involves empathizing with their emotions and struggles.

She doubled that it’s all about connecting with people in the real world, contrasting it with the virtual realm where AI operates. While AI excels in online environments, Valerie said it lacks the ability to have tangible human experiences such as commuting, cooking, leisure activities, and the like. In her view, this comprehensive understanding of real-world experiences gives human creators a unique advantage over AI in crafting authentic and relatable content.

“Maybe AI is listening to us, but it’s not really seeing what we’re seeing. That’s our edge — we live a 360-degree version of life, and being online is just one aspect of it,” Valerie concluded.

adobo Magazine is an official media partner of ADFEST 2024.

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