As usual

As usual, Denyse at MindMatters has a funny take on AI attempting to write ad copy. AI can provide cues and alternate phrasings, but humans have to generate the ideas and select the phrases that work.

As usual, Duane Jones handled this question in 1955, though not with computers in mind. (Computers were already trying to write in 1955, but this activity wasn’t well known.)

The Jones agency had produced a successful magazine ad for Heinz ketchup. A painting showed an elegant waitress holding a silver tray with a single bottle of Heinz, standing over a well-dressed businessman at lunch. The headline said:

What she knows about your husband

The copy explained that she knows your husband likes Heinz, with the implication that you’d better figure out his preference before he strays.

Jones tried to sell the ad to MacLeans magazine in Toronto.  Their editor rejected the headline immediately. Impossible! Too risque for sedate Canadians! Jones asked the MacLeans editor to write a more suitable headline, and he came back with:

He gets it downtown, so why not let him have it at home?

Innocent people genuinely can’t think dirty thoughts, so they can’t see the problem with this sentence. AI is innocent about all subjects, not just sex.

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