McCann Japan Finally Hires a Robot as Creative Director

By Patrick Coffee 

Today in Press Releases That Should Be Taken Very Seriously, McCann Japan has finally turned the wildest dreams of holding company executives into reality by automating the creative director role. The AI CD will, in fact, attend the Tokyo office’s new employee welcoming ceremony on April 1st along with 11 recent college grads who have also joined the McCann team. And yes, that date is pure coincidence.

OK, but what’s this all about, really? From the press release:

“AI-CD β is artificial intelligence that is able to give creative direction for commercials.”



“Moving forward, AI-CD β will be assigned as a creative director to client accounts and will provide creative direction for commercials as per creative briefs.

Until now, the production of commercials has been dependent on the intangible experience and know-how of human creators.”

This is somehow…believable? According to McCann’s Japanese office, a team called McCANN MILLENNIALS (of course) developed this full-service replacement for your least favorite creative director.

These clever whippersnappers analyzed and “deconstructed” a whole bunch of ads including “the winners of the All Japan Radio & Television Commercial Confederation’s annual CM Festival (ACC CM Festival) awards for the past 10 years” in order to give the robot a database from which it can best determine which factors make the perfect ad for “any given product or message.”

The release calls the resulting process “logic-based creative direction,” and we can imagine Sir Martin Sorrell salivating. It’s not a stretch to imagine AI-CD making ads for certain categories like, say, auto that are actually better than most of the stuff on TV.

Get ready for this quote from creative planner and McCANN MILLENNIALS founder Shun Matsuzaka:

“Our team didn’t have a creative director, so we thought, why not create one ourselves with artificial intelligence? That’s how the Creative Genome Project got started. Our hope is for our A.I. creative director to work on many projects, gain experience, and to grow into a world-class creative director that will leave a mark in the advertising industry.”

McCann Japan president and CEO Yasuyuki Katagi adds that the team is “100 percent on board to support the development of our A.I. employee.” The news has also provided ample opportunity for people who are no longer young to make jokes.

Others were less sure about the implications of this move.

We reached out to McCann Worldgroup’s PR department, which may or may not have responded with an out of office auto-reply before confirming that this is all very real. The team in Tokyo is aware that there may be confusion among us simple Americans due to the prevalence of the April Fools Day tradition, but that’s not really such a big deal in Japan.

In fact, the project was first announced last September. From Campaign:

“Matsuzaka said the TV series ‘House of Cards’ was an example of a successful creative product that used data relating to consumer responses to develop its storylines.”

That might explain why House of Cards is so bad.

“Matsuzaka said it was true that advertising creatives still tend to be frightened by data and that there was indeed some fear within the agency at the suggestion of AI taking a role in creativity. However, he said the idea was not to replace creativity, but merely to inform it.”

What a relief. Deep thoughts from our Chief Executive Scientologist:

i robot