Coca Cola has released a commercial that builds upon Andy Warhol's famous painting of a Coke bottle and then hurls it throughout historical and contemporary masterpieces within an art gallery.
Unlike the disastrously spooky generic beer ad released this year (see below), featuring humans with six fingers and crumbling body parts, this Coke ad is first class; possibly because humans held the hand of AI and harnessed it into action.
To create the commercial, there's a mixture of live action shots, digital effects, and a resource called Stable Diffusion, a text-to-image model that generates detailed images based on text descriptions.
We have a lot more, grounded commentary to share on AI but for this article, let's just reflect on this commercial because you're probably like every other business founder and leader, being bombarded by non-stop spam from supposed "AI experts".
In fact, these instant AI gurus are very similar to the SEO and crypto currency snake oil merchants who came before them; promising their solution will solve all your problems with little concern about risk, relevance, and effectiveness. They just want your money fizzing its way through their payment method of choice.
A palate cleanser: The creepy beer commercial
The creepy beer commercial, dubbed Synthetic Summer, was created by Helen Power and Chris Boyle from a London-based production company, stringing together a number of short clips that would have been created from various text prompts like "happy teenage girls holding beer cans and laughing together".
As you can see, this shows no threat to human ingenuity.
However, Coca-Cola took production to a new level.
The Coca-Cola AI commercial
Does Coke add life to AI or vice versa?
As good as this ad is, it's a little on the side of the ledger for “do it because you can rather than because you should”, reminding me of the early 3D movies where an actor sweeping would pause, look at the camera, lift their broom, and gently poke it at the audience “because they could”.
This ad is being discussed and shared for its integration of AI, which was the point. Get in first with new technology and win the Shiny New Object game.
What saves this from purely being a simple showcase of using AI in film, is that the playfulness is on brand with the Coke advertising legacy; they’ve simply swapped beach antics, surfing, or novelty extreme sports for a romp through the art world.
Furthermore, in a clever twist, the artworks range from historical to contemporary, connecting with Coke's many generations of users.
What is unexpected and unintentional messaging, however, is that the protagonist in this Coke ad is not being physically active.
Instead of being the typicaly Coca-Cola commercial star, cartwheeling around the place (and burning off those syrupy calories), our lead actor here is just sitting and sketching, passively seeking inspiration from the AI zeitgeist. Hmmm, sounds familiar?
And this is the challenge for all of us. As tempting as it is to hand over many tasks to AI, we need to remember it is calculating how words and images go together, its's not understanding what its content means. Our Talking About Marketing podcast will continue deliving into this as we take the journey together.