Usually it takes days for MM+M to create its print cover image. For this issue, it took about eight seconds.
In keeping with the freewheeling spirit of MM+M’s annual Data Issue, we thought it’d be fun to experiment with the AI-infused tools that have captured the public’s imagination. Initially, that only entailed tapping ChatGPT to conjure up a 900-word feature on the use of data in healthcare marketing, then asking some of the industry’s top analytics experts to annotate it. Based on their commentary, we feel secure in our ability to out-write a computer brain machine … for now.
Still, the exercise proved so instructive that we thought: Why stop there? To illustrate the issue’s cover story on AI myths and misperceptions, our design team proposed farming out the assignment to Leonardo.ai, an AI image generator.
We outlined a broad concept based around Janus, the god of beginnings, transitions and duality in Roman mythology. As such, Janus is usually depicted with two faces positioned in opposite directions — one toward the past, the other toward the future. (We see you, change-wary brand teams.)
Here’s the AI prompt that ultimately generated the cover image: “janus, two faces, facing sideways, portrait, bearded, wires, marble.” Nine stream-of-consciousness words. That’s all.
“It is really just a case of being as specific as you can, then altering the prompts as you go,” says Sean Ayling, the Neal Award-winning senior art director who, alongside ace graphic designer David Lee, keeps MM+M looking sharp.
Which isn’t to say the cover-image-generation project proceeded without incident. “The one really crazy thing is that it can’t draw hands,” Ayling continues. “The images end up with demon fingers.”
Demonic digits notwithstanding, assembling the content for this year’s Data Issue opened our eyes to the myriad possibilities enabled by the industry’s information era. With the influx of data — and the platforms that refine, organize and otherwise make sense of it — has come a wealth of insight and innovation that likely would have remained just out of grasp.
We’re more efficiently leveraging real-world data. We’re expanding the purview of the data scientist role. Everything seems possible, and that’s because the industry has gone all-in on the information at its disposal.
OK, time to get back to work on MM+M’s next print cover. We’ll have a first draft for you in three weeks.