A Cautionary Tale of AI

The artificial intelligence (AI) boom continues to revolutionize countless industries. In the advertising and marketing space, creativity has no limits. While this is on first glance a good thing, what follows is a real-life cautionary tale, as proven by a recent news story.

An actor and TV news anchor were spokespeople—not

Tom Hanks—the beloved star of movies such as Forest Gump, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and the Toy Story franchise—was recently seen in an advertisement for a dental plan. Gayle King—the popular anchor for CBS News—was seen as a spokesperson for a weight loss product. The issue: These well-known figures did not actually participate or endorse these products. What people have been seeing are AI-generated likenesses.

The real Tom Hanks and Gayle King are explaining…

As reported by Derrick Bryson Taylor in The New York Times, Mr. Hanks and Ms. King have taken to their respective social media accounts to post warnings to their friends and followers that these advertisements were completely fraudulent. Ms. King states that the AI-doctored likeness of her was lifted from a legitimate post from late August, and has since stamped “Fake Video” on this ad, while Mr. Hanks has emblazoned “Beware!!” over the screenshot of the false dental ad that he seemingly appears in. Both celebrities categorically deny having any association with these ads and the products promoted.

Tom Hanks

Where does this lead?

Mr. Bryson did not mention the specific products, the manufacturers, or the creators of these phony advertisements. Whether Mr. Hanks or Ms. King plan on pursuing legal action is yet to be determined. (It’s interesting that these two false ads should appear just as the Writers Guild of America strike came to a resolution, and the SAG-AFTRA strike continues. A concern of both organizations was how AI would be used in the script writing and generation of performers’ likenesses. Oh, the irony.)

Use caution with AI

Most advertising professionals know—or would take the time and effort to learn—about what they may legally present in a promotional piece. There is the potential, however, to become so excited about all the amazing possibilities that can be achieved through AI, that they might lose sight of right or wrong. The examples that “star” Mr. Hanks and Ms. King are proof of this.

Whatever the future developments with these situations involving Mr. Hanks and Ms. King may be, the message is clear: Be careful, be alert, and stay educated in how AI is applied in a creative setting.

Whether the so-called creatives behind these false ads were rogue or horribly uninformed about rights of using the likenesses of famous people, what transpired here was an example of “the dark side of AI.”

Yes, AI is a good thing for many uses. But too much of a good thing…

Check the title and intro to the blog again. No matter the possibilities—use caution.

For help with advertising and marketing needs, contact EGC.