WPP's Rob Reilly on creativity, humour in advertising, future of AI and more

Rob Reilly, global chief creative officer, WPP talks about his first experience of winning a Lion, being jury president, humour in advertising, AI, young creatives and more.

By  Storyboard18Jul 24, 2023 9:35 AM
WPP's Rob Reilly on creativity, humour in advertising, future of AI and more
Reilly spoke very highly of India and how it has made progress in leaps and bounds in creativity and technology and marrying the two effortlessly.

Artificial Intelligence is the talk of the town. Everyone wants to know more about it, use it and be surprised by it. AI is the next big thing. It will transform work culture and streamline a lot of processes. In the creative industry, AI will have a significant impact in the years to come. Everyone from head honchos to junior staff is just as excited as anyone to witness the potential AI packs. Some might even be scared to lose their jobs. Rob Reilly, global chief creative officer, WPP caught up with Storyboard18’s editor Delshad Irani at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity to talk about his first experience of winning a Lion, being jury president, humour in advertising, AI, young creatives and more.

According to Reilly, for him the feeling of presenting the Lion to a winner might just be greater than receiving one. “Being able to see the happiness on a young creative’s face is worth it.” He adds. Furthermore, when asked about the kind of work that agencies are churning out recently, he said, “People talk about purpose-led work and how there’s too much of it. In my opinion, there actually isn’t enough of it. Brands have filled in where the government can't help people, whether it is because of money or other reasons. Why should that stop?” However, he added that what needs to be figured out is how to effectively bring humour back into advertising. This was a hot topic at Cannes this year. A lot of campaigns that won awards this year were purpose-driven.

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Rob Reilly speaking to Delshad Irani in Cannes.

“I don’t want to blame purpose for the lack of humour.” Reilly adds. He believes that agencies have simply shied away from humour. They’re afraid of how far they can push things. India has done tremendous work with humour. Australia and Thailand too. “We need more of it. We need to figure out how to bring more humour into advertising, not at the expense of purpose.” said Reilly.

WPP has made some leaps in using AI. Reilly said that WPP is deep into AI, they’ve been using it quite a bit. Moreover, WPP is partnering up with NVIDIA to increase their AI footprint. “For creative people what has been lost is the ability to experiment and to try things and fail. There’s not enough time and money. AI will help creative people experiment.” He too believes that AI will work as a tool that will help people work better and faster but won’t replace creative people. “AI will definitely make stuff but it won’t make the best stuff. Having humans involved is the only solution to creating magical work.”

A few campaigns that stood out for Reilly over the past year were AB InBev’s work for Corona, where they helped farmers grow limes for their beer. China doesn’t grow a lot of limes. AB InBev taught them to grow it. Now it has changed the face of Corona in China. “Secondly, The Burberry film where we saw people flying through the air. There’s also Serena vs Serena who won the Grand Prix.” He also mentioned the Cadbury campaign featuring Shah Rukh Khan as another stand-out campaign.

Lastly, he spoke very highly of India and how it has made progress in leaps and bounds in creativity and technology and marrying the two effortlessly. “We’re looking for India not just to win but to show us the way.”

Watch the full interview here.

(Curated by Aashrey Baliga)

First Published on Jul 11, 2023 9:31 AM

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