The Brandtech Group has acquired generative AI software as a service (SaaS) platform Pencil.
Founded in 2018, Pencil is built on OpenAI’s GPT family of large language models and generates multiple channel-ready ads and copy by looking at a brand’s objectives, assets, and preferences.
As part of the announcement, the Group is launching Pencil Pro, a new generative AI product it says is tailored to the needs of global brands. Pencil Pro will seek to address potential concerns with using AI to generate advertisements by providing “robust solutions […] free of any legal headaches” to concerns such as avoiding inappropriate or offensive content generation and copyright infringement, though the company did not specify details for how it would do so.
Launch partners for Pencil Pro include Unilever and Bayer.
Brandtech Group founder and CEO David Jones commented on the acquisition by calling Pencil “easily the most significant company in the generative AI marketing space.”
He added: “Generative AI is going to change the world and the world of marketing beyond recognition. […] While lots of people are talking in the future tense about what they will build or might do, or announcing made-for-PR partnerships, Pencil is the only company in the world to have already used more than $1bn of actual media dollars across 4,000 brands since 2018, building unparalleled data, insight and learnings around Gen AI for marketing at global scale.”
The Brandtech Group has made other investments in AI and AI-adjacent companies such as Crossing Minds, AI Foundation, CreativeX, VidMob, and its 2022 acquisition of Acorn-i, but this is its first acquisition specifically in the generative AI space and its 10th overall.
The acquisition comes on the heels of The Brandtech Group acquiring digital media and marketing company Jellyfish. A team from Jellyfish has been tasked with leading training in generative AI and Pencil for over 1,000 Brandtech Group employees.
In an interview with The Media Leader earlier this month, Brandtech Media founder Nick Emery alluded that the “next stage” for The Brandtech Group is seeking to move further into the AI space, saying their recent acquisitions “[put] a real stake in the ground about winning the space race to be the 21st century marketing organisation.”