Marketing AI Guidelines


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is having a significant impact on the marketing discipline in several areas including content creation, image generation/modification, chatbots, marketing automation, personalization, predictive analysis, generative AI, social media, and more. New uses are emerging every day.

The marketing community across Harvard Business School (HBS) can benefit from the applications of AI, and several groups have already begun to use it in their day-to-day work. Although experimentation is essential to understanding the most efficacious ways to engage with AI for marketing purposes, caution is equally important. These guidelines are intended to set boundaries on the sanctioned uses of AI in our marketing activities.

Current Uses of Marketing Related AI at HBS

  • Generating transcripts for audio and video content

  • Editing audio scripts

  • Syncing of audio and video for video production

  • YouTube video descriptions (for SEO optimization)

  • Drafts of articles (before further human refinement)

  • Social media copy

  • Modifying or enlarging the backgrounds of photographs (while preserving the substance/intent of the original photograph)

  • Removing privacy-related or undesirable elements from photographs (e.g., class card names, alcoholic beverages) while preserving the substance/intent of the original photograph

  • Creation of illustrations (including photo collage) for stories and articles (as a substitute for stock photography)

  • Chatbots

Benefits from Using AI

  • Less expensive than commissioning custom illustrations and data visualizations.

  • Easier to learn and faster than standard image editing software.

  • Major time savings on tedious activities (e.g. captions, descriptions, transcripts)

  • Jump starts creative process

  • Streamlines customer service (e.g., chatbots)

  • SEO optimization

Cautions for Using AI

  • Perceived as inauthentic

  • Potential IP risk

  • Factual errors

How to Mitigate Risk

Human oversight is the best way to mitigate the risks of using AI in our marketing activities.


We encourage responsible experimentation and use of AI in marketing and communications activities.

Responsible use includes sufficient human oversight of any AI generated content or analysis to ensure accuracy and quality.

The following are acceptable uses of AI in marketing:

  • Modifying images and video in ways that preserve the original intent of the image. For example, it’s okay to remove a wine glass from someone’s hand, but not to change the setting in which the photo was taken.

  • Generating original images such as illustrations, animations, or data visualizations. However, generating photos of composite people to appear as students or participants is never appropriate.

  • Creating drafts of written content for articles, social media, emails, and ads if they are carefully proofread for accuracy and quality by humans.

  • Generating transcripts for audio and video content if reviewed for accuracy and quality.

  • Deploying chatbots to streamline and accelerate customer service.

  • Drafting marketing plans and creative briefs.

Citing the Use of AI

To ensure the authenticity of the content we produce, it is important to be transparent about the use of AI. Original images (e.g. illustrations, data visualizations) generated with AI must be identified as such by placing the following tag in the lower right corner of the image: Created using AI.

Images that are modified, edited, or enhanced (e.g. sharpened, color-corrected) do not require a tag.

Since drafts of articles, social posts, transcripts, and other written content will be edited and fact-checked by people, they also do not require a tag.

Third parties who are creating content for HBS are required to follow these same guidelines.