How Not to Use AI: Lessons to be Learned from Willy’s Chocolate Experience

Time to read: 5 minutes

Date: March 1, 2024

It goes without saying that AI can be a fantastic tool for a wide variety of tasks and jobs. Marketing, software development, advertising, brainstorming. You name it and you can probably use AI to help improve it in some way. Unfortunately, there are cases where AI is abused, mishandled, and implemented in a way that can be misleading or downright harmful. 

Recently, “Willy’s Chocolate Experience”, an event held in Glasgow, Scotland, brought an uglier side of AI front and center. While the event itself doesn’t reflect well on AI as a whole, it’s contributed in casting a longer shadow on AI usage. This article aims to go over the event as a case study in how to not use AI tools. 

What was Willy’s Chocolate Experience and What Does it Have to Do With AI?

Willy’s Chocolate Experience was advertised as a Wonka-themed event in Glasgow that was advertised as an immersive experience that would more or less transport attendees to the world of Willy Wonka. The event was advertised as having things like a chocolate river and interactive elements like being able to meet characters from Roald Dahl’s novel. The event was also promoted with colorful images based on the original Willy Wonka film and book.

So what happened? When attendees arrived at the event, they were met with bitter disappointment. What they thought was going to be a fun and colorful activity for them and their kids ended up being a large warehouse sparsely decorated with Wonka-themed AI generated images and lackluster candy structures. 

The actors who were hired for the event were also given AI-generated scripts, which have been described as gibberish, and the workstation that the only Oompa Loompa used to make candy as part of the show has been likened to looking like a meth lab. To make matters worse, creator and organizer of the event, Billy Coull, had AI create a villain for the event called “The Unknown'' which scared some of the children in attendance and is now an internet meme. 

Overall, this use of AI to mislead customers with promotional materials, generate poor quality scripts, and ultimately create a cheap experience for customers could lead to a loss of trust in AI technology.     

It’s Important to Use AI Genuinely and Responsibly

What can we learn from this disaster? First and foremost, AI tools themselves are not to be blamed for this fiasco. 

It must be said that, while AI is a powerful tool that writers can use to help them create their work, simply churning out something on the fly without considering if it’s good or even accurate, can be disastrous. When using AI as a writers tool, it isn’t a substitute for writer’s themselves, and this is evident in how these scripts were viewed and used.  

The images that were generated for the event were negatively received by the attendees and critics of AI art in general. The images used in the event tend to be riddled with misspelled words and messages that could be interpreted as false promises to the attendees. Imaginative scenery is something that is heavily associated with Willy Wonka. However, the promotional images, as well as the images used for the event itself in the form of posters that were too small for the venue’s walls, had issues like depictions of Wonka himself with too many fingers and other things that make little sense even in Dahl’s fantastical setting. 

AI-generated images were also heavily used on the event’s website. This led many of the customers to expect something like Wonka’s candy factory rather than a sad warehouse. While these types of images have their uses, this is an example of AI art being used in a way that misleads people and ultimately increases the stigma already associated with AI. 

Second, while you can use AI to complete work quickly, simply generating images and scripts and putting together an event like this requires care and honesty. These things seem to be completely absent from the Willy’s Chocolate Experience event. AI ultimately needs human input to be effective, and in this case it appears that little, if any, thought was put into the material that was generated.

Finally, you should never use AI to mislead customers. One of the biggest failings of Coull’s event is that it used AI images in a misleading way to promote what was being offered to attendees. AI images can be eye-catching, but it should never come at the cost of your customer’s experience. Transparency in marketing and advertising materials is a must. 


AI is a tool that anyone can use to make their work better, improve customer experiences, and optimize workflows. However, using AI to mislead customers or quickly generate things like images and scripts with the idea that they’re going to automatically be winners without any human interaction or input is something that should be avoided. This is a bitter lesson that the AI industry can learn from. Use AI to sweeten your work and give your customers what they deserve.

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