Shreyas Kulkarni

Zomato spot starring Musk, Messi, and Leo is another example of a brand taking creative liberty with generative AI

UpGrad recently took down a generative AI-driven post of Sundar Pichai after backlash and lack of consent.

That Zomato’s new generative AI-driven social media work – Elon Musk preparing chaat, Lionel Messi serving biryani at a restaurant, and Leonardo Di Caprio brewing chai – will find takers in the scroll-pause-like-share-resume scrolling audience of Instagram is a given.

What should instead catch notice is whether the brand took consent from the three famous people before juxtaposing their likeness in such situations using generative AI.

In another such instance of creative liberty with generative AI, media network Aaj Tak, for International Yoga Day on June 21st, posted photographs of world leaders such as US President Joe Biden, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, and Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese performing yoga.

Edtech brand upGrad recently took down a post which used an AI-created photograph of Google chief Sundar Pichai and punned on his last name for its offerings; people panned it and wondered if Pichai consented to it.

“The ASCI code requires advertisers to not use names or references of individuals or institutions of repute without their express permission. Also, putting a disclaimer that essentially contradicts the representations made in the ad does not make it ok,” wrote ASCI secretary general Manisha Kapoor in a LinkedIn post referring upGrad’s now-deleted post.

One wonders if Zomato had seen how the upGrad story played out before publishing its video post.

An incentive for brands to use generative AI is not only the speed with which the intelligent machines spit out work, but a cost-benefit exists as well.

Also Read: Are ad-makers employing AI impetuously?

Last year, Byju’s, an edtech brand, agreed to pay about $5-7 million per year to Lionel Messi to bring him on board as a brand ambassador, as per The Hindu BusinessLine. Smartphone brand Micromax in 2013 brought on actor Hugh Jackman as an ambassador after shelling out top dollar.

Why spend all the money when one can type in a few prompts can do the trick?

Generative AI, despite its benefits and cons, still has an evil to defeat - Voyeurism.

People love celebrities; there has always been a voyeuristic fascination with the stars and what they’re doing in their everyday lives. It is the reason for the rise of paparazzi culture across the world.

Taken to its extreme right now is technology-driven deepfake that plasters celebrity faces in pornographic movies.

Last week VMLY&R and Virgin Journeys created a generative AI ad starring megastar Jennifer Lopez; users had to answer a few questions on the cruise ship’s website and receive a personalised invite from Lopez meant for the users or their friends or relatives.

“JenAI (Lopez’s AI avatar) has a built-in series of things she cannot say and a team of moderators to ensure nothing slips through the cracks via creative spelling or innuendo,” reported AdAge.  

Update (5 July 2023): Zomato has taken down the video from its social media channels.

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