At the dawn of the new year, some questions persist surrounding ChatGPT and AI’s role for future of creatives.


By Cy White, Photos courtesy of Kat Thay

On Oct. 25, 2023, Austin was once again on the cutting edge of tech. The Austin chapter of the American Advertising Federation (AFF) hosted the first ever ChatGPT-powered awards show. The Big Wig Awards was an opportunity to spotlight and recognize the very best in advertising and creativity. While the awards show has passed, its success further opens the conversation surrounding the pervasiveness of AI technology and programs like ChatGPT. Certainly, the future is bright and fascinating. However, many creatives are still cautiously interrogating what this could mean for the work they do and how it’s acknowledged. In the wake of the Big Wig Awards’ success, the question at the center of this becomes of greater intrigue. What does this mean for creativity in 2024 and beyond?

Co-President of AFF, Kat Thay, speaks on the resounding success of the Big Wig Awards. She takes some time to explore what she’s most excited about in the future of AI technology. She also weighs in on the question forefront in the minds of creatives and innovators alike.

Please introduce yourself to our readers.

I’m Kat Thay, an agency owner and consultant to brands, agencies and creatives, currently serving as the co-president of AAF Austin. A Brit enjoying life in Austin for the last five years, the driving forces behind my work are people, passion, purpose and creativity, which I wholeheartedly embrace. I’m a business connector who excels in guiding teams and clients toward outstanding creative solutions. My specialization lies in optimizing and overseeing the creative process. I also execute multichannel strategies, all while leading a team from the initial concept to successful completion.

More context on AAF

The AAF is a national organization in the U.S. dedicated to advancing and promoting the advertising and marketing industry. Founded in 1905, it is one of the oldest and most influential advertising trade associations in the country. AAF’s mission is to support and champion the advertising community by providing education, advocacy, networking opportunities and various resources for professionals in the fields of advertising and marketing.

AAF is made up of a network of local advertising clubs and federations across the U.S., bringing together professionals from advertising agencies, marketing firms, media companies and related industries. They organize events, conferences and programs to foster collaboration, recognize creative excellence and promote ethical standards in advertising. AAF also administers the American Advertising Awards (formerly known as the ADDY Awards), one of the advertising industry’s most prestigious competitions for creative excellence.

AAF is a volunteer-led organization. Jake Hay and I lead a committee of 10-plus board members overseeing Austin and the rest of Central Texas.

What is your history with artificial intelligence? 

My journey into the world of artificial intelligence (AI) began approximately three months ago, thanks to a recommendation from my AAF co-president, Jake Hay. His suggestion was to leverage AI for AAF Austin’s Big Wig Awards to help us maximize efficiency and save time. Since that moment, I have thrown myself into extensive research and exploration. This AAF project has provided me with a valuable opportunity to delve into the exciting possibilities and capabilities AI has to offer.

What makes you most excited about the latest innovations in AI?

How it enables people to immerse themselves in technology and generate ideas more efficiently. AI helps creatives test concepts and develop creative solutions at an accelerated pace. As a ChatGPT user, I appreciate how these innovations empower creative minds to work faster and more effectively, opening new horizons for innovation and problem-solving.

What were some of the biggest challenges of producing the first-ever ChatGPT-powered awards show?

The process was surprisingly pain-free. AAF Austin technology chair Jenaro Diaz helped us incorporate a variety of tools alongside ChatGPT to enhance the production and wow our audience. These additional tools included HeyGen for realistic mouth movement and Topaz Labs for reduced pixelation. ChatGPT was primarily used to create our award winners’ acceptance speeches. This created a relatively seamless process where an AI avatar read acceptance speeches in the voices of our award winners live as they were announced in the room.

What was the most exciting aspect of putting this together?

We kept what exactly the AI element would look like close to our vest in the run-up to the event. Seeing the genuine surprise of the people in the room was particularly thrilling. Using AI within a creative community was an exciting prospect, especially since it didn’t actually involve replacing anyone’s jobs. The entire production process proved to be highly efficient, which translated into more time for in-person networking and fun!

We also used to transform Scholz Garten, a 150-year-old German beer hall, into an AI-themed room. works with marketers and advertisers to build new ideas and expand on existing concepts.

Keith from API Austin kindly donated his time to help us get these printed.

Obviously the event was a resounding success. (Congratulations to you and the team!) Do you believe AI-powered awards are the next evolution of artificial intelligence? If so, what does that look like?

While AI is a powerful tool, it’s essential to remember how quickly trends can come and go. An awards show is a creative production. It’s crucial to tailor what you’re doing to each event’s unique audience and provide what will connect with your specific attendees. I firmly believe that we can never replace the authenticity of human interaction. The success of this endeavor, with a touch of tongue-in-cheek humor, underscores the enduring value of genuine human engagement.

If we were to consider using AI again in the future, we could explore alternative approaches, such as creating a virtual judge armed solely with the competition guidelines and an impartial agenda. This could be an intriguing experiment, adding an element of novelty and objectivity to the process. However, it’s essential to emphasize that it should be approached as a unique test, not a replacement for human connection and ingenuity.

Where do you see technology like that used at the Big Wig Awards heading in the future?


In light of the recent news regarding Joe Biden’s recent Executive Order, and growing concerns surrounding deepfakes, we are increasingly committed to the ethical use of AI. Our priority is to maintain a vigilant watch over the credentials and integrity of the work being produced, ensuring that AI is deployed responsibly and transparently.

As a marketer, to be able to effectively incorporate generative AI into a marketing strategy you must define the need, identify what area will gain the most out of implementing the technology, perform an audit of the current tools and rigorously check the output data to ensure quality. I expect to see creatives continue to experiment with AI and implement it by working cross-functionally with teams, taking their learnings to inform a broader content marketing strategy.

For those who have misgivings/concerns about AI replacing the human element in creative fields (such as advertising), what can you offer to allay those fears?

As an organization, we are taking proactive steps to address concerns regarding AI potentially supplanting creativity. Our primary objective is to explore imaginative ways to leverage AI’s capabilities, thereby enriching our work and nurturing creativity.

AI will empower creatives by serving as a tool rather than posing a threat to anyone’s job.

As someone in the business of content creation, machine-generated content often lacks the emotional intelligence deeply rooted in human creativity. If used in the wrong way, it will risk diluting a brand’s personality, harming customer loyalty, engagement and brand perception.

AI algorithms sometimes base decisions on incomplete or inaccurate information, leading to subpar or even offensive content.

To mitigate these issues, marketers should rely on tools that are rigorously tested and updated with current data. It’s crucial for marketers to grasp that generative AI can automate specific campaign elements, but it cannot replace the creativity and emotional connections they rely on to craft compelling campaigns.

Any final thoughts?

Since the GPT-3 update in January 2022, ChatGPT AI has become a focal point of global discussions across governments and major industries. These conversations encompass different perspectives, depending on its utilization and audience. Whether it’s viewed as a valuable tool, as a reflection of technological advancement or as a potential threat.

The implications of ChatGPT are profound, as it has the potential to reshape how we interact with websites, manage emails, calendars and engage in chat groups. These changes are poised to have a lasting impact on our digital experience. Furthermore, ChatGPT may paradoxically free us from the constraints of technology by streamlining and enhancing human-computer interactions. However, trust remains a critical factor in adopting such technology. Ensuring its reliability will be paramount as we move forward.

I have some reading to do!


What I’m reading:

Companies I’m looking at:

  • Amazon Image Generator: Mind-blowing new functionality from Amazon where product photography gets transformed into engaging lifestyle ads.
  • Strong end-to-end marketing copilot with company intelligence, campaign creation, content & performance analytics features.
  • Pixis: AI targeting, creative and performance infrastructure for growth marketing. First end-to-end growth marketing solution that I’ve seen.
  • Stable 3D: AI-powered app that generates textured 3D objects for modeling and game development platforms like Blender, Maya, Unreal Engine and Unity.
  • Writer: Impressive enterprise-grade AI tool producing content ranging from incident reports and emails to product descriptions and executive summaries.

Leave A Reply

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial