How WPP trains 50,000 employees with AI videos

Jakob Marovt
September 2, 2022

About WPP

WPP is a creative transformation company focused on building better futures for businesses and brands. With an integrated offer of communications, experience, commerce, and technology, WPP helps clients solve the challenges of modern marketing.

Chances are that you've been exposed the creative work of one of the company's 100,000 employees in over 100 countries.

As a creative transformation company, WPP is itself on a digital transformation journey, identifying and embracing new ideas, new partnerships and new ways of working.

To achieve this, WPP prides itself on being the destination for the best and brightest talent in the industry and is committed to continually provide the best growth opportunities for everyone in the organisation.

A good example of this is the initiative of the Data & AI team at WPP, led by Di Mayze, Global Head of Data and AI. At the beginning of 2020, the team committed to invest in and prioritise data skills within the company, before investing in data acquisition.

To achieve that, the team has set an ambitious goal of up-skilling 5,000 data practitioners and Demystify AI for 50,000 of WPP's 100,000 employees, by the end of 2022.

We were determined that there would be up-skilling opportunities for everyone, whatever the level, the literacy and not just for English speaking colleagues.
- Di Mayze, Global Head of Data and AI at WPP

The challenge

Just as the final touches to instructor-led training and locations for a series of video shoots were being finalised - the COVID-19 lockdown happened.

The environment had changed, but the goals had not, so the team had to rethink and recalibrate the way they conducted training.

With instructor-led workshops and live shoots rendered impossible by the pandemic, the team looked at creative alternatives to develop the learning content for the Demystify AI series.

The solution: using AI to teach people about AI

Below is an example of an AI video created with Synthesia STUDIO.

During the lockdown caused by the COVID pandemic, WPP partnered with Synthesia to replace the impossible studio shoots with AI-generated microlearning videos created in Synthesia STUDIO.

As a creative transformation company, WPP has fantastic content creation capability within the network. The Data and AI team worked with WPP agency AKQA to create the scripts necessary for the AI videos. AKQA first conducted deep research on AI topics that are of key interest to WPP specifically.

These included topics such as creative AI, generative copy writing and creative explanations of complex concepts such as Generative Adversarial Networks. They then took this knowledge to create 20 scripts, especially tailored for the delivery style of AI avatars.

To make it accessible to more of their 100,000 colleagues, the content was translated in English, Spanish and Mandarin.

With all language variations delivered, WPP created a web experience on their platform, WPP Open, where they personalised the videos, using the Synthesia API. The personalisation points included the first name, location agency and department of the employee.

As a result, the unusual corporate training videos, sent to tens of thousands of employees around the world, essentially featured an AI presenter addressing them by name, while explaining some basic artificial intelligence concepts such as “What’s the future of AI?” and “How is AI helping us create a more diverse world?

"We were excited by the idea of having AI training our people on AI." - Di Mayze, Global Head of Data and AI at WPP

The results

Synthetic videos produced with STUDIO are cost efficient and fast in development, compared to a similar company-wide internal education campaigns which would require multiple scripts and production efforts, each costing tens of thousands of dollars to produce.

  • The latest stats show that the Demystify AI videos have been watched thousands of times from colleagues in 51 markets.
  • The AI Academy has been a resounding success: to date, over 4,926 people have registered and spent a whopping 11,237 hours learning.
  • The course recommendations were clearly popular too -  with the average score for a course being 4.75/5!

These initiatives have been so successful that the WPP team has also attracted the attention of many clients who want something equally engaging and creative for their employees, as the need to retain talent in this competitive field remains high.

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