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Automated Creative + KFC

Discover how Automated Creative innovates with Brandwatch to turn impressions into intelligence for clients like KFC.

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CASE STUDYAutomated Creative + KFC

As the Innovation Director at a creative agency, Tom Ollerton came across a range of technology that could help automate the creative process.

From writing poems to researching audiences, he saw the power of these tools and how they had the potential to change how advertising works.

Fast forward to 2017 and Automated Creative set up shop. The intention? Reinventing advertising using automation.

Today, they accomplish this by turning brands' impressions into intelligence.

Brands already rely on impressions to deliver different outcomes, but they don't often stop to look at the psychological reactions to those impressions. By focusing on social listening data and using this to make ads at scale, Tom and his team are able to drive a much deeper understanding of how the audience thinks and feels.

"We research consumers by analyzing how they respond to optimized paid advertising. The real innovation for Automated Creative is that a brand's ads cease to become the end but instead become the means by which they understand their consumers at a deeper level. We do that for brands like KFC, GSK, Reckitt, Unilever, MARS, Diageo, Mondelez, Danone and P&G."
— Tom Ollerton, Founder of Automated Creative

How Automated Creative works with Brandwatch

So where does Brandwatch fit into this exciting puzzle? Automated Creative uses our dashboards in a very unique way.

Tom explains it best:

“We’re an odd client for Brandwatch. We want breadth, whereas other analysts will be looking for the key, killer insight. That’s the last thing we want – we want to get the opposite of an insight – we want to know what everyone is saying so we can make tons of ads to reflect those desires and not make a biased guess based on one strategist's gut feel.”
— Tom Ollerton, Founder of Automated Creative

Brandwatch dashboards pull all of the social listening data needed to understand how consumers are talking about a particular topic or sector. Then the analysts make data-driven decisions about what themes to test in ads. Based on these insights, the Automated Creative tech automates the production of hundreds of ads and uploads them for the media agency to set live, and then starts collecting first party creative-level data.

“We can move brands from knowing which ads work to knowing why those ads work,” says Tom. 

This all starts with asking the right questions and creating a strong social listening brief. The goal is to understand how people talk about a given brand or category.

The goal might be to discover:

  • In what moments do they connect to a product?
  • Who are they with when they are interacting with those products?
  • What do they hate about your industry?
  • What do they love about your services?

Data within the Brandwatch platform provides a mass of insight into how an audience feels and what they care about. 

“You only get data back on the things that you test. And that’s why Brandwatch is so brilliant – it enables us to see all the things that we should test.”
— Tom Ollerton, Founder of Automated Creative

The Automated Creative team starts with broad themes, each of which has multiple sub-themes which are made up of topics surfaced by Brandwatch. These can then be translated into hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of ads informed by the original social listening data.

“It’s definitely a human + machine process, and that’s where the magic happens. We started off the business thinking ‘we’re going to automate everything, we’ll press a button and it’ll all happen.’ But the more we tried to automate things the more human we realised advertising is.”
— Tom Ollerton, Founder of Automated Creative

Brandwatch helps the team automate the collation of all of those social conversations, but human analysts play a critical role by screening data for relevancy and checking that the themes are appropriate for a brand to create ads around. 

“Machines are good at doing lots of small things very, very quickly. Humans are good at doing slow, tangential, strategic thinking very slowly,” highlights Tom.

Client Story: KFC

Automated Creative was asked to discover deeper consumer insights from KFC’s advertising while driving better performance.

"I couldn’t be more pleased with the partnership KFC have developed with Automated Creative. Not only have AC delivered unreal performance on recent ad campaigns, they have also given the KFC marketing team new insights into the motivations of our customers."
— Jack Hinchliffe, Marketing Director at KFC UK & Ireland

The team began with a social listening brief based on the client’s challenge which was all about driving downloads to the KFC app. To start the process, the Automated Creative team set out to understand how people talk about takeaway food in the UK. 

“What are the psychological triggers that get people excited about takeaway food so that we can encourage them to make KFC their takeaway choice at that point? It’s an odd way of doing it, but we think it’s really interesting.”
— Tom Ollerton, Founder of Automated Creative

Using the Brandwatch platform, his team researched what people were saying about the fast food category and then tested the themes discovered.

“Instead of the brand team sitting there scratching their chins saying ‘I think it’s this’, what we do is take everything from Brandwatch, turn it into ads, test it against the audience, look at the data, then make more ads, look at the data, then make more ads. And we do that all through automation.”
— Tom Ollerton, Founder of Automated Creative

The KFC campaign saw some great results:

  • 193% improvement on performance benchmark
  • 45% cheaper than BAU
  • Additional savings in production
  • Strategic insights and learnings they can take forward 

Their approach essentially blurred the line between research and campaign to create organic, data-driven conversations around KFC’s mobile delivery app. 

You can hear the story from KFC right here:

Consumer intelligence enables data-driven campaigns

With the help of social listening data from Brandwatch, Automated Creative was able to transform impressions into a consumer insight tool. 

Whether you are looking to innovate like this team or simply keep up to date with your customer conversations, Brandwatch can help.


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Existing customer?Log in to access your existing Falcon products and data via the login menu on the top right of the page.New customer?You'll find the former Falcon products under 'Social Media Management' if you go to 'Our Suite' in the navigation.

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Brandwatch acquired Paladin in March 2022. It's now called Influence, which is part of Brandwatch's Social Media Management solution.Want to access your Paladin account?Use the login menu at the top right corner.