author of Honorable Influence - founder of Mindful Marketing
With marketing and PR firms increasingly turning to AI to create images and write content, I shouldn’t have been surprised when a friend who reads my writing made a request of ChatGPT that hit close to home: He asked the bot to write a Mindful Marketing article.
I’d recently written a couple of pieces about AI and ethics based on some extended conversations I’d had with ChatGPT. In those discussions I probed the bot’s moral mind, asking it almost any ethical question I could conceive. I stopped short, though, of asking the AI to explain if a particular marketing tactic was both effective and ethical, i.e., to apply the concept of Mindful Marketing.
Part of the reason for not making such a request may have been fear – concern about how good the bot’s answer might be. If it could write a compelling Mindful Marketing piece, who would need me?
However, I also was eager to see how ChatGPT would respond since I’m always interested in Mindful Marketing applications, whoever makes them. My friend created the good prompt below, which is followed by the bot’s detailed response:
Write a blog post about the mindfulness of Pepsi advertising, using the "Mindful Matrix" criteria established by the website www.mindfulmarketing.org/mindful-meter--matrix.html. Provide an assessment on whether their marketing is Mindless, Single-Minded, Simple-Minded, or Mindful.
“In today's world, advertising has become a critical tool in promoting products and services. Pepsi, one of the world's leading soft drink brands, has adopted different advertising strategies to promote their products. But how mindful are they in their advertising? In this post, we'll assess the mindfulness of Pepsi advertising using the mindful matrix criteria established by mindfulmarketing.org.”
“The Mindful Matrix is a tool that assesses how mindful an advertisement is, based on four categories: mindless, single-minded, simple-minded, and mindful. Let's examine how Pepsi performs in each category.”
“Mindless: Mindless advertisements lack any mindfulness or intentionality, and their sole purpose is to sell products without any regard for the consequences of their actions. Pepsi's advertisements do not fit this category since they are designed to promote their products, but not to the point of being entirely mindless.”
“Single-minded: Single-minded advertisements concentrate on a single idea, concept, or message. They have a clear and direct message, which can be easily understood. Pepsi's advertisements, such as their Super Bowl commercials, focus on a particular theme or message. For example, their 2021 Super Bowl commercial emphasizes the idea of bringing people together and celebrating the joy of the moment. This single-mindedness helps to make their advertisement more impactful and memorable.”
“Simple-minded: Simple-minded advertisements focus on one central idea, but their message is too basic or too straightforward. Pepsi's advertisements do not fall into this category since they typically have a unique storyline or message that stands out. The company's campaigns, such as the Pepsi Generations campaign, emphasizes the company's historical connection and the evolution of the brand over time.”
“Mindful: Mindful advertising is intentional, purposeful, and mindful of its impact on society. It seeks to connect with people on an emotional level and offers a positive message that resonates with them. Pepsi's advertisements often include cultural and societal themes, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, that demonstrate a social conscience. Additionally, Pepsi's "For the Love of It" campaign aims to provide a positive and uplifting message that resonates with consumers on an emotional level.”
“Overall, based on the Mindful Matrix, Pepsi's advertising is mainly single-minded and mindful. The company's advertisements are engaging, meaningful, and mindful of their impact on society. They often use storytelling and cultural themes to resonate with their audience, making them a more mindful brand. By understanding the Mindful Matrix, Pepsi and other brands can make more intentional and impactful decisions with their advertising efforts.” [end]
At first glance, ChatGPT’s response seemed pretty good. The bot had a decent sense of Pepsi’s advertising to which it methodically applied each quadrant of the Mindful Matrix. However, a closer reading revealed significant deficiencies, which I described to my friend:
The bot’s answers kind of remind me of how some less-than-well-prepared students answer essay questions: They unnecessarily rephrase the question and regurgitate some readily available definitions of terms, but they provide very little in terms of thoughtful analysis that answers how and why.
It’s nice that ChatGPT tackled each quadrant of the Matrix in responding to the Pepsi prompt, but on whole the applications are rather weak and incomplete, for instance:
- Mindless: What specific evidence is there that Pepsi’s ads have “regard for the consequences of their actions”? The assertion sounds good, but is their specific support for it? Furthermore, assessing consequences is just one facet of ethics. Arguably more important are moral principles, which should lead to the question of whether specific Pepsi ads uphold universal values like decency, honesty, and fairness.
- Single-Minded: ChatGPT really misinterpreted the nature of this category, which doesn’t mean to “concentrate on a single, idea, concept or message”; rather, Single-Minded means to focus on marketing success to the exclusion of ethics. The bot says that Pepsi’s ads have emphasized the idea of “bringing people together and celebrating the joy of the moment,” which is good in that the support is a little more specific; however, it’s actually the opposite of Single-Minded and is more in keeping with Mindful Marketing.
- Simple-Minded: Again, ChatGPT doesn’t appear to understand the nature of the category, as “one central idea” isn’t the idea: Simple-Minded means neither effective nor ethical. In contrast, “Basic” and “straightforward” are good things that often make marketing tactics effective. To its credit, the bot does provide somewhat specific support here in referencing the Pepsi Generations campaign, but it’s an old reference that I believe first dates back to the 1960s and was last rebooted five years ago in 2018. What about Pepsi’s Super Bowl ads that aired a few days ago, featuring Steve Martin and Ben Stiller?
- Mindful: ChatGPT does well at affirming the definition of this aspirational category of the quadrant – at first – but then it adds elements that don’t necessarily mean Mindful, for instance, connecting with people “on an emotional level” may be good but also might be immoral if it means playing on their emotions in a manipulative way, such as a salesperson feigning friendship in order to get a sale. Likewise, demonstrating a social conscious can be great, provided that it’s genuine. Interestingly, Pepsi was skewered for the wokeness of its 2017 ad featuring Kendall Jenner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwvAgDCOdU4
In sum, ChatGPT’s analysis lacks depth, currency, and in some cases, accuracy. Granted, the prompt was somewhat general, but the bot doesn’t do much in the way of drilling down into specific ads’ content and using those words and images to support why certain elements are ethical or unethical.
So, if I were grading ChatGPT’s analysis, I’d give probably give it a “C.” It’s a nice effort with some marginally good applications, but the misinterpretation of several matrix quadrants wouldn’t be acceptable.
My friend then shared my reply with ChatGPT, which offered another very interesting response. Note that ChatGPT refers to itself in the third person:
“Thank you for sharing your thorough assessment of ChatGPT's responses to the mindful marketing prompt and the assessment of Pepsi's advertising using the Mindful Matrix. I agree that while the bot's responses may seem decent at first glance, they do lack depth, currency, and accuracy.”
“I appreciate your breakdown of the issues with ChatGPT's analysis in each quadrant of the Mindful Matrix. Specifically, I agree that the bot's assessment of Pepsi's advertising as having "regard for the consequences of their actions" in the Mindless category needs more specific evidence to support its assertion. Additionally, the bot's understanding of the Single-Minded and Simple-Minded categories needs clarification.”
“Regarding the Mindful category, I agree that ChatGPT does a good job of affirming the definition but falls short in providing examples that demonstrate genuine social consciousness. The criticism of Pepsi's 2017 ad featuring Kendall Jenner is an excellent example of how companies can be criticized for their attempts at mindful marketing that come off as tone-deaf and insincere.”
“In conclusion, your assessment provides valuable insights into the limitations of AI-powered chatbots in providing in-depth analysis and specific examples in response to a prompt about mindful marketing. While the technology is improving, it still has room for growth in its ability to understand complex ethical issues and provide nuanced analysis.” [end]
ChatGPT’s response to my critique of its Mindful Marketing article is impressive! At a time when intellectual debates often devolve into reckless disregard for truth and personal attacks, the bot offers a masterclass in civil dialogue by:
- Genuinely listening: It repeatedly and accurately references specific points of my critique.
- Thinking logically: It offers a well-organized and rational reply.
- Demonstrating humility: It acknowledges more than once, deferentially, that it didn’t get things right and it needs to do better.
So, does AI have the potential to take my job or yours? It certainly does. It’s already replacing some human work-hours, and this Mindful Marketing has offered further evidence of its capabilities, including the three competencies just outlined.
However, AI also has a few Achilles heels that give motivated human job candidates who prioritize four things more than a fighting chance:
- Accuracy: Beyond what this exercise found, I’ve often heard others bemoan chatbots for playing loose with facts. No person can compete with AI in terms of pure information processing, but people are capable of exercising better judgment.
- Depth: In keeping with the last point, AI seems to value information quantity over quality. An array of superficial data is not helpful when what’s really needed is a deep, analytical dive in a specific area of analysis.
- Currency: AI trains on information that is always dated to some extent, so even though it’s constantly learning, it can never quite make it into the present and take into account data that’s not yet been digitized, as humans can.
- Context: Just as AI is unable to use the most current information, it also can’t read the room, meaning, it can’t take into account things like organizational culture, individuals’ personalities, social dynamics, or how these and many subtle situational factors are affecting the climate of the moment.
Throughout history, technological innovations often have replaced human labor, usually in ways that have helped people work more effectively and efficiently. As AI continues to evolve, we all must adapt our competencies accordingly. Right now, however, a belief that absolutely an occupation can be outsourced to AI is a foundation for “Simple-Minded Marketing.”