image of a paper plane sculpture on a wall implying take off of AI tools for fast-turn market research questions that agencies might not otherwise have been able to service
Thinking

AI is making ‘The Impossible Strategic Ask’ Possible (and affordable)

November 13, 2023

As a forward-thinking innovative agency of 20+ years, it’s probably no surprise to anyone that we at Firefish are loving AI and espousing its virtues to anyone who will listen. We’re fully plugged into, and thriving in, the Post-ChatGPT world we find ourselves in, but there’s one question we keep getting asked:

“As an agency positioned around ‘human strategy’, does the world of the machines not seem a strange juxtaposition?”

It’s a fair question. Qualitative research purism that drives creative thinking with discipline doesn’t seem a natural bedfellow for the wild west of artificial intelligence. But to us, AI isn’t artificial, it’s actually lots of other As:

  • Accelerated intelligence
  • Augmented intelligence
  • Additional intelligence
  • Another tool to be utilised, to allow us to be better at what we do best

As we have said before, AI is allowing us to more human-focused than ever before, by taking away the parts of our work that hold us back, bog us down and simply add cost and time to projects that don’t always need to be there.

By making tasks and processes redundant, it liberates us to do the thing we do best, the things that make us human – the nuance, the understanding, the context, meeting the needs of insight & strategy teams, their businesses, brands, and their stakeholders. You know, the things that only we as humans can know: the right questions to ask, the right responses to dive deep on, the tenacity to look at the data to get to the point, the way to tell the story of the insight so it lands with the audience with impact and drives them forward with confidence.

Far from AI being a confrontational invader in our space, we’re giving it a chair at the bar next to us, putting our arm around it and buying it a drink. And the results so far are delightful…

Making the impossible, possible

A client calls. There’s a sense of urgency in their voice, coupled with a hesitant laugh that gives away the fact that they know what they are about to ask is possibly impossible.

We take a silent deep breath and, in our usual charming way as genuine partners, tell them to start from the beginning.

There’s a script they need testing. They want to use a major Hollywood star for their next campaign, but before anybody even goes near their agent, they need to know there’s a point. A hope. A path worth pursuing.

…Oh, and they need to know this by Friday. (It’s Tuesday morning).

“Oh, and we want meaningful qualitative insight, not just a bunch of numbers. We want rich, human insight. We want to understand. We want meaning. And we want it in three markets and only one of them speaks English”.

In a pre-AI world, the first instinct would be to potentially politely decline this seemingly impossible ask in fear of not having the time or resource to give it the strategic thinking – not to mention setup, translation and management – time it requires.

But now, your Actual Instinct (see what I did there) is to turn your newfound AI friend and ask them: “Can we?”

They know you and tell you, in cultural reference terms they know you will understand and enjoy:

“We’re 106 miles to Chicago. We’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark and we’re wearing sunglasses. Hit it.” *

(This is from The Blues Brothers, for anyone that hasn’t seen it)

So, then what happened?

Tuesday Afternoon:

Taking our comms development guide, honed over two decades of expertise in helping clients shape their advertising, we use AI to fine-tune it for the very purposes of this specific piece of work and form it into a guide for an interactive, AI-powered IDI via chatbot.

At the same time, we rally our sample troops and prime them for a targeted campaign to get 50 of their finest recruits that meet the specs, ready for action.

Wednesday morning:

The project lead wakes up and gets coffee for their morning commute.

They arrive ready to check the link, sign off the translations and launch the study by the end of the day. Oh, and they make sure they have another of our comms expert ready to dive into the results and start the strategic analysis and delivery with them.

They log on and check their email…to see the analysis for the project completed and in their inbox.

WAIT! WHAT?

<< REWIND <<

That’s right. Overnight, our AI-powered approach to comms development has not only set up the interviews, but has done the interviews, using our expertise in serving the right questions, probing using the latest in chatbot moderation, to get the richness and depth the brief needed.

The AI has also automatically coded and thematically classified the responses and provided super helpful summaries of the key areas of interest.

Oh, and did we say that it had been translated into 2 additional languages, probed in native language, and so therefore had also re-translated responses back into English for summarisation at the speed of life?

So, now, they have 2 full days to do what the AI can’t do: make it make sense for the client, in the right context, with their rich history of working on the brand and their can’t-be-replicated-by-machines knowledge of the stakeholder and the internal demands around this piece of work.

No job too big, no budget too small

This is the power of AI.

Not to dilute the reason you pay for the best human-centred thinking in the business, but to get it on the projects that you never thought you could.

For the projects you thought were impossible, or the questions you thought weren’t worth researching.

You’re not trying to get truly thoughtful and competitive-edge-making research on the cheap, you’re trying to get research that is constrained by budgets and time to have some magic in them, by using AI to drive the process pain away whilst leaving the smart human thinking intact.

AI isn’t replacing human brilliance; it’s just making human brilliance more realistic, achievable and affordable.

And we are using it beyond communications too, so, if you have creative to understand; innovation ideas to test and develop; or audiences to understand better – but you think you don’t have the time or money to do it – think again.

Call or email us and we’ll show how we are making those vital yet seemingly impossible strategic insight asks possible, affordably so.

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