This article first appeared in Campaign Middle East written by, Sarah Yates, Project Director at Imagination Middle East.

Imagine a world in which client feedback is always precise and perfect. No nuance is needed.

No ‘reading between the lines’. No new people suddenly walking into a meeting you were not prepared for.

Never blurred opinions, always based on fact and reality. A client who never gets annoyed, responds immediately, answers every question, and has every piece of information you can need.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Now, imagine the same client being completely inflexible. Unwilling to hear new feedback, unable to adapt to changes, and incapable of manoeuvring around challenges.

With ChatGPT seemingly rolling out new developments every day, it’s hard to envision a world in which AI comes not only from the agencies but also from the clients.

There are a few intangibles currently still solidly nestled within our domain as human professional service providers:

Taking the big gambles

Clients often bring us in to push the envelope, giving a fresh twist on stale situations and challenging our creative capabilities.

This is where AI currently falls short. We can tell a client where they need to push more (or less) or how to look at a situation more clearly.

They need more oomph or less grandeur (let’s see AI try to analyse ‘oomph’), who to talk to get the right people on board, and so forth.

We’re trained to help our clients at every stage, and sometimes, that requires us to hold their hands outside their comfort zone – something that generative AI is currently unable to do.

Adapting to change

We’ve all been in situations where we had to choose the lesser of two evils.

Two high-powered clients clashed, and the agency had to take a side, for example. Or an unpredictable, out-of-control factor came into play, activating the force-majeure clause.

This is where the expertise and instinct of the project teams come into play. We can look in a client’s eyes and recognise that postponing an event would severely damage the brand’s reputation, so we look to host it online.

We know a production failure can genuinely hurt a campaign’s performance, so we look to mitigate the damage with innovative solutions.

In fact – we’re neurologically and psychologically predisposed to ‘like’ human art more than AI art, an indication of how we’re still ahead of AI in knowing what’s valuable to other humans (a cognitive study from 2023 confirms this).

Brave enough to say ‘no’

The power to say 'no’ may be one of our industry’s last bastions of creativity. AI will never say no.

It will dig and dig into its seemingly endless database of facts and virtual neurons until it finds an answer it thinks is satisfactory. It will keep iterating for that thumbs up the user gives it.

On the other hand, we combine decades of experience, training, tools and teams to give clients our best and most educated opinion—and sometimes, that opinion is that they should not do something and should do something else instead.

When dealing with clients, we have a commitment, a contract, and our honour on the line. Unless you shook hands directly with Sam Altman (OpenAI’s CEO), ChatGPT is currently the cheapest freelancer in the world, and it is working with everyone.

We love integrating new tools into our work streams that liberate time and allow us to think more creatively. However, ironically, it may be that choosing to remain analogue in some things is the best thing we could ever do for ourselves and our clients.