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#sowhoknew: Killing creativity – the death of the copywriter?

I once read that being a Copywriter was one of the safest jobs in advertising. Why? Because it can’t be automated. At least that is what Nick Usborne, author of several books and programs on the subject of copywriting, claims. “Computers can’t be creative or intuitive” according to Nick. Well, he didn’t see Persado coming then, did he?

The Wall Street Journal headline from last week puts the situation into stark perspective: Persado Raises USD 21 Million to Replace Human Copywriters With Computers.

So what the hell is Persado? Well, it is the ‘automated copywriting’ startup that has raised a total of USD 37 million from investors including Citi, American Express and Oracle in two rounds of investment over the past year. Major backing from some serious players.

In fact Citi actually uses Persado for its credit card business and states that the rate at which its emails are opened has increased by 70 per cent by using the software. In addition, it says that the rate at which recipients who open those emails go on to click on them has increased by 114 per cent. No wonder Citi has become a major investor.

Co-founder and CEO Alex Vratskides said “we have never lost to a human. I’m a mathematician, and I can guarantee you, it’s like a computer losing to a human on a chess game, even worse than that… It incorporates a lot of randomness to get there, it’s like getting a needle in a haystack. We built the haystack. The human brain does not work this way.”

Apart from financial services, who else is Persado targeting? Well, pretty much every category it seems. Persado has indicated that it goes after “big companies trying to sell big things”. That’s pretty much everyone then. It also claims to be working with about 50 Fortune 2000 customers, with the highest demand coming from retail, telecommunications, travel and hospitality.

Is this really the death knell for copywriting as we know it? Is artificial intelligence going to take over the human brain in the race for the best taglines?

According to Vratskides, the algorithms that run the software “take the randomness of creativity out of this equation. Our software platform generates the most persuasive language for communications — in this way, we eliminate the guesswork of copywriting”.

Powerful and compelling stuff… I wonder if he got the Persado software to write that for him?

Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Global Media Lead - Nestlé at Mindshare. Previously, he was the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe. Previously, he was the CEO, Asia Pacific – OMD. Prior to that, he was Global Chief Integration Strategy Officer (Asia Pacific) for IPG Mediabrands (Initiative & Universal McCann). He has also had stints as worked as Managing Partner at Omnicom Media Group owned media agency, PHD where he successfully launched their second office in the UK. He began his career at JWT and has over two decades of experience in advertising, media and marketing communications.