July 15, 2024

Toys “R” Us Faces Backlash Over AI-Generated Advertisement

Toys “R” Us has sparked controversy after unveiling its latest advertisement, entirely created using OpenAI’s generative video AI tool, Sora. The ad, developed by the company’s in-house studio and creative agency Native Foreign, portrays founder Charles Lazarus as a child and his vision for the iconic toy store and its mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe.

Toys “R” Us promoted the AI-generated ad as a pioneering effort, boasting it as the first major commercial made exclusively by OpenAI’s text-to-video tool. The retailer aimed to honor Lazarus’ legacy with the latest technology, according to chief marketing officer Kim Miller Olko.

Criticism from Artists and Filmmakers

Despite the company’s enthusiasm, the ad has faced significant criticism from artists and filmmakers. Avengers: Endgame director Joe Russo harshly criticized the ad.

While others pointed out technical flaws, such as inconsistent visual continuity and noticeable changes in the characters’ features and clothing throughout the 66-second clip. Critics on social media likened the ad to a “weird dream” where characters change appearance with each scene.

Robin Schmidt, CEO of metaverse multimedia firm BasedAF, questioned the marketing strategy behind the ad. He argued that it failed to showcase the brand’s essence. Concerns were also raised about the energy costs of producing AI-generated content compared to traditional filming methods. Former Ubisoft concept artist RJ Palmer noted that the ad’s visual quality did not surpass conventional tools but consumed significantly more energy.

Limitations of AI-Generated Content

OpenAI’s text-to-video model Sora, unveiled on February 15, initially impressed users with its capabilities. However, the model’s limitations have become evident, particularly its difficulty in generating consistent footage without “uncanny” variations in subjects. These flaws have surfaced in the limited examples of Sora-generated content seen in mainstream media, casting doubt on its current viability for high-quality video production.

As Toys “R” Us navigates this backlash, the debate over the role of AI in creative industries continues to intensify.

Image from Flickr

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