The Lexus ES, a rather angular looking beast from the company behind the Japanese Mercedes, is the subject of an ad written not by some talented louche scriptwriters in an agency, but by IBM's Watson artificial intelligence platform.
The ad itself, from The&Partnership, is pretty decent. It features a Toyot--- er, a Lexus engineer wistfully saying goodbye to his creation as it gains sentience, speeding off into the mountains (cue typical mountainous roadholding footage). Here's the ad accompanied by its making.
As car ads go, perhaps it is - finally - the true embodiment of the slogan used by the advertising campaign for the Ford Sierra, Man and machine in perfect harmony. And, to give The& some credit here, they are genuinely using AI to write the ad rather than doing what Burger King's agency David Miami did, and write an ad that pretended to be written by AI.
Kevin Macdonald, director of The Last King of Scotland, turned his directorial chops to this challenge.
When I was handed the script, the melodrama of the story convinced me of its potential. The fact the AI gave a fellow machine sentience, placed it in a sort of combat situation, and then had it escaping into the sunset was such an emotional response from what is essentially a digital platform. The charmingly simplistic way the AI wrote the story was both fascinating in its interpretation of human emotion, and yet still unexpected enough to give the film a clearly non-human edge.
Overall, it's nicely done although clearly AI has only gone so far in the development of the ad. The direction wasn't by computer; the camerawork wasn't done by automated drone; and it wasn't edited purely by software. It would be fascinating to see what Watson could have done here, even if it was footage of failed attempts, to see exactly where the current point of harmony truly lies between man and machine.