Purple hued illustration of two rows of washing machines

Should we be worried about AI washing?

There are concerns that brands, agencies and creatives aren’t disclosing where they’ve used AI. Yet as companies increasingly see the technology as a business selling point, is it also possible that some are actually overexaggerating their use and understanding of AI?

The rise of generative AI in the last couple of years has created a strange dichotomy in the creative industries. On the one hand, creatives are swearing off it due to ongoing concerns around intellectual property, their long-term career prospects, and the future of the industry itself. At the same time, the companies that hire or commission them are clamouring to get stuck in and invest in AI.

At least, that’s how it appears. In reality, when a brand, agency or studio says it’s investing in AI, what does this look like in practice? Research from May 2024 found that 12% of recruiters are creating new roles specifically involving AI, and that head of AI positions are fast becoming the new ‘must-have’. While there are certainly plenty of creative companies out there who have the bandwidth and intent to truly go under the bonnet of AI, are the legions of new AI-related job titles and departments really pushing new frontiers in generative creativity, or are they specialists in name only?

Most of us have been preoccupied with companies and individuals hiding the fact that they’ve used AI, yet all the while another problem is quietly brewing in the background: some are inevitably overexaggerating how they’re using the technology.