Willy Wonka Experience Glasgow: Lessons Learned
March 12, 2024

In a scenario reminiscent of a Roald Dahl story, the recent “Willy Wonka Experience” in Glasgow, Scotland, serves as a cautionary tale about the intersection of customer expectations, AI technology, and event planning. Here’s what unfolded, followed by crucial lessons for organisations that blend innovation with customer satisfaction.


What Happened?


Promising a magical journey through a chocolate wonderland, the event relied heavily on AI-generated imagery and descriptions for its marketing. However, the reality fell short. Attendees, especially children, were met with a grim warehouse sparsely decorated and performers uncertain of their roles. The event, which could have been a delightful adventure, turned into a disappointing experience, sparking a wave of memes and criticism across the internet. Among the peculiarities was a character known as “The Unknown,” a villain created by generative AI that bore no resemblance to Dahl’s creations, adding an unintended layer of confusion and fright to the experience.

Lessons Learned


1. The Double-Edged Sword of AI in Marketing and Creativity

The first lesson is the importance of a critical human eye when using AI for marketing and creative purposes. AI can generate content quickly and in vast quantities, but its lack of understanding of context, tone, and human expectations can lead to misleading or inaccurate representations. The Glasgow event’s promotional materials promised a world that the experience couldn’t deliver, showcasing the gap between AI’s creative abilities and human creativity. Organizations should use AI as a tool, not a crutch, and ensure all AI-generated content aligns with what they can realistically provide.


2. Managing Customer Expectations with Integrity

The debacle highlights the critical importance of managing customer expectations. Misleading advertising, whether intentional or not, can have immediate and long-term repercussions on a brand’s reputation. In the age of social media, disappointed customers have a powerful platform to share their experiences, turning a single event into a global PR crisis. To avoid such pitfalls, companies must ensure their marketing accurately reflects their offerings, setting realistic expectations to build trust and loyalty with their audience.

3. The Importance of Contingency Planning

Lastly, the event underscores the necessity of robust planning and contingency strategies. From the mismatched AI-generated content to the ill-prepared venue and performers, a lack of adequate preparation was evident. Organizations should have detailed execution plans and be ready to adapt when things don’t go as expected, ensuring a quality experience for all participants.


The “Willy Wonka Experience” in Glasgow is a powerful reminder of the complexities of blending new technologies with customer-centric services. As AI continues to evolve, its integration into marketing and creative projects must be cautiously approached, emphasizing authenticity and realistic portrayals. By learning from this event’s shortcomings, organizations can better navigate the digital age, ensuring that innovations enhance rather than detract from the customer experience.

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