The Willy Wonka Experience AI Disaster


Artificial intelligence (AI) has recently emerged as a powerful marketing tool, offering businesses valuable insights and capabilities to engage with their audience more effectively. From analysing data to automating processes, AI has become a cornerstone of modern marketing strategies, enabling businesses to stay competitive in an increasingly digital world. Clearly, it's here to stay.

What Is AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the technology that enables machines to imitate human intelligence. They are programmed to think and replicate cognitive functions such as learning and problem-solving. Take ChatGPT, an AI technology that processes and generates human-like text based on the input it receives. AI systems like ChatGPT can sift through vast datasets, recognise patterns, and make decisions with minimal human intervention. They use algorithms and statistical models to process information, enabling them to tackle tasks typically requiring human intelligence.

The Power of AI

AI's ability to analyse vast amounts of data and uncover actionable insights is unmatched, providing marketers with invaluable information about consumer behaviour, preferences, and trends. By leveraging AI-driven analytics, businesses can make data-informed decisions, optimise their campaigns, and deliver personalised experiences to their audience.

The Bad AI Egg

However, while AI undoubtedly has its place in marketing, it is not a cure-all. The effectiveness of AI in content creation and image generation, for example, is limited by its inability to replicate the creativity and nuance of human expression. As the Willy Wonka Experience in Glasgow demonstrated, relying solely on AI generated led to a lack of authenticity. It ultimately undermined the success of marketing efforts, damaging the brand's reputation.

Tarnished Golden Tickets 

The Willy Wonka Experience, organised by the House of Illuminati, was marketed as an "immersive experience" inspired by the beloved Wonka films, and was an event marketed for families and children. The organisers utilised AI-generated descriptions and imagery, and the event promised attendees a fantastical journey complete with giant mushrooms, candy canes, and chocolate fountains, all accompanied by special audio and visual effects narrated by dancing Oompa-Loompas and Willy Wonka. However, customers who had paid up to £35 for a ticket arrived at the industrial park venue in Glasgow to find a starkly different reality. Instead of the promised wonderland, they were met with a sparsely decorated warehouse containing only a few plastic props, a small bouncy castle, and some makeshift backdrops, a far cry from the immersive experience advertised.



Left, how the Welcome to Willy's Chocolate Experience was marketed. Right: The actual event. The Guardian


The disappointment among attendees was palpable, with the first set of customers demanding refunds upon arrival for the morning slot. Stuart Sinclair, who attended with his family, described the event as "that bad, it was funny,". Furthermore, one of the actors who played Willy Wonka, Paul Connell, remarked that even his script appeared to be made up “pretty much of AI-generated gibberish.”

Consequently, organisers were forced to cancel the event midway through. However, they failed to notify later arrivals, leaving some who had travelled considerable distances unaware of the cancellation. As a result, these attendees are now seeking reimbursement for their travel expenses, adding to the event's fallout. Michael Archibald, who played one of the Willy Wonkas, said that people "started rioting" and the chaotic situation, with parents describing the event as "awful" and recounting how it left children in tears of disappointment prompted police intervention.

Here Comes The Oompa-Loompas!

Organisers of the event have issued a formal apology for the debacle that left children in tears and families outraged. Billy Coull, Director of the House of Illuminati, expressed deep disappointment over the event's failure to live up to expectations.

Acknowledging the mishap, a spokesperson for the House of Illuminati expressed remorse for the distress caused, describing the day as "very stressful and frustrating" for many. They admitted to last-minute setbacks and conceded that the event should have been cancelled earlier. The organisers pledged to issue full refunds to all ticket holders and expressed regret over the event's failure to materialise as planned. 

The fallout from this incident has tarnished the brand's identity. Customers are now likely to approach future events with caution, if not outright scepticism, and may even choose to boycott House of Illuminati events altogether.

The Importance of Authenticity 

This situation highlights why businesses must approach AI in marketing cautiously and carefully. While AI can provide valuable insights and automate specific tasks, using it to create content can cause problems and needs to be carefully managed.

AI algorithms often rely on large datasets to generate content, which may inadvertently perpetuate biases or produce generic, cookie-cutter material. Without human oversight and intervention, AI-generated content risks sounding robotic, insincere, or disconnected from the brand's identity.

How to Use AI Effectively

To maintain authenticity while incorporating AI in marketing efforts, businesses should:

  • Define Brand Voice and Values: Establish clear guidelines for AI-generated content that align with the brand's voice, values, and objectives. Human marketers should provide input to ensure that AI-generated content reflects the brand's personality and resonates with its target audience.
  • Human Oversight: Assign trained experts to oversee AI-generated content creation processes. These professionals can fine-tune AI algorithms, identify potential biases, and intervene when necessary to ensure content remains authentic and on-brand.
  • Blend AI with Human Creativity: Combine the analytical power of AI with human creativity and intuition. Use AI-generated insights to inform content strategies but allow human marketers to add their unique perspectives, storytelling flair, and emotional resonance to the final product.
  • Test and Monitor: Continuously monitor and evaluate the performance of AI-generated content. Solicit feedback from consumers and adjust strategies accordingly to enhance authenticity and effectiveness.

Partnering for Success

While AI excels in analytic tasks and can produce content rapidly, the quality may only sometimes meet expectations, and the absence of a human touch is noticeable. As seen by the Willy Wonka experience disaster, prioritising authentic, quality content is crucial for your digital strategy's success. Therefore, partnering with a digital agency remains the safest and most straightforward approach.

At Fingo, we understand the significance of authenticity in marketing. Our design experts collaborate closely with clients to create genuine, captivating content that resonates with target audiences, fostering meaningful connections and driving long-term growth.


To find out more about our design services and how we can help your business, contact us today at