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Hardee’s and ‿ and us show what AI can’t do

By Jalaja Ramanunni

Not ready for AI to take over everything just yet? We hear you. And here’s a campaign for you.

AI is the word du jour, the topic of the moment. Everyone is talking about AI and its capability. Thanks to the next generation Chatbot GPT and DALL-E platforms, industry leaders, tech leaders, celebrities and news channels all over the world are discussing the hottest topic about how AI can replace human creativity.  This moment has even been compared to the “invention of the Guttenberg press” or “invention of photography” by many thought leaders.

After the initial awe about what these tools can do subsided, a collective angst has developed. People feel threatened that AI is becoming so good, it could impact everything in life as we know it, including our jobs in the creative industry. It could really change everything.

American burger chain Hardee’s decided to put AI to the test with unAimaginable, an experiment to see just how good it really is, to see if it was the genius it’s purported to be – and whether there’s any way to alleviate everyone’s anxiety about it.

Along with creative agency ‿ and us, Hardee’s prompted AI’s image making tool DALL-E, to “imagine Hardee’s Super Star burger”. What came back was an array of weird, wacky, surreal, completely wild creations – amazing, near misses, beautiful images, but crucially – not one was a 100 per cent correct image of a super star burger. So, they pushed it more with other prompts including giving the full recipe. But it still could not nail a Super Star burger down in over 10,000 attempts.

What then resulted was a campaign across the Hardee’s social channels posting the platform’s wild creations, along with a film hoping to put their customers minds at rest. AI is not perfect, it cannot replace us and it cannot replace the enjoyment of a good burger.

Hussein Kandil, Hardee’s regional marketing director MENA said, “The campaign rides on the hot topic of the hour, for people in the region and around the world. This is a message everyone needs to hear right now – that it’s OK, take a breath, ‘AI isn’t coming for you just yet’. And if we can make this much needed message with the help of a delicious Hardee’s Super Star burger, then all the better.”

Jamie Kennaway, executive creative director, ‿ and us added, “We acted fast to bring a tongue-in-cheek message of hope in the moment people needed it the most, heading into a new year, with the spectre of AI hanging over us all. It was the perfect time to show not what it can do, but what it can’t. Each image AI generated therefore became an eye-catching reminder and proof that AI isn’t quite there yet.”

Justin Hunter, Hardee’s senior marketing manager also commented, “The response has been dramatic and we have clearly struck a chord with people. It’s a brave new world, and while thought leaders are still figuring out the implications of AI, as a brand we’re happy to lead with a message to make everyone feel just a little better. A message to come enjoy a real flame grilled Super Star, safe in the knowledge AI isn’t going to take over everything. Well just now anyway.”

Agency : ‿ and us

Client : Hardee’s