Products will soon be available in classic movies and modern television near you
The ability of AI to modify and enhance images is excellent – and, in the case of deepfakes, sometimes alarming. We now have a new adjective to add: âunbelievably obnoxiousâ. Meet the cutting edge company that wants to bring product placement injection to almost everything.
The BBC has an interview with Mirriad, a UK company that has created technology that allows it to seamlessly insert background advertising into content that never contained the ads. This allows for new types of digital product placement, such as changing labels on liquor bottles with an updated brand, inserting new ads in Ocean’s 11, or ‘getting Charlie Chaplin to promote a soft drink. “.
The BBC’s vision for this technology focuses heavily on the idea of ââadding commercials to classic movies and films. Overall, this appears to be a less likely use of the technology. The advertisements, logos and branded content of many films can be seen as a vital component of the work itself. The idea of ââupdating the Times Square ads in a given movie to more closely reflect real life might be fine, but injecting modern ads or brands into classic movies? Even though Mirriad provides a few examples of the concept, as shown above and below, it’s hard to imagine that the idea is widespread. Small changes might pass, but anything on the order of “Charlie Chaplin, but he sells white claws” seems unlikely to fly.
According to Mirriad CEO Stephan Beringer, its technology is used in China and it has been tested by “the creators of the hit American television series Modern Family”, which appears to involve ABC. The company overview video, inserted below, shows products inserted into videos before they are released, but not necessarily the modification of classic content already posted.
In the 1970s, the average person was exposed to between 500 and 1,600 advertisements per day, depending on their occupation and entertainment habits. Today, it is estimated that we are exposed to between 6,000 and 10,000 ads per day. These numbers take into account exposure from all sources and were likely to be much lower during the pandemic, but the amount of advertising we are exposed to on a daily basis has been increasing for years. When I visited the Netherlands in 2014, the first thing I noticed was the complete lack of advertising in Amsterdam compared to all the American cities I have lived in or visited.
Mirriad’s technology is used by musical artists to add logos and product placement to music videos, in the hopes of generating additional revenue streams through referrals. In the future, Mirriad hopes to add new advertisements to sports and concert broadcasters by inserting advertisements into the broadcast content.
Mirriad’s technology is a truly interesting example of applied AI. Used judiciously, I have no particular problem with this. As always, the problem comes down to the word “wisely” and humanity’s general inability to determine its meaning.
Take the âbeforeâ and âafterâ images Mirriad provided to the BBC, pictured above. The producers of this content are working with Mirriad and clearly agree with how the digital ad injection is changing the nature of the scene above. I’m not going to question them – but I would say the presence of a large Coke logo Is change the nature of the scene. This implies that the people who live there are at least fairly familiar with American products and that at least one of those products – Coke – is a desirable commodity.
What is the significance of this change? As big or small as this one: if I had only seen the original frame, I would never have thought of Coca-Cola at all. Seeing the second image, my eye catches “Coca-Cola” as the only piece of English visible in the frame. The very familiarity of the logo in an otherwise unknown scene catches my eye; I notice the logo’s Americanity precisely because it stands out on an otherwise unknown street.
If I had only seen this second frame, devoid of any context, I might wonder if the artist was trying to say something by juxtaposing the only English word with the rest of the photograph. I might think the artist was trying to say something about the nature of the values ââAmerica had exported to the world, that “Coca-Cola” was the only English word in sight.
With the context, we know that such thinking would be worse than unnecessary. There was no ad at the time of filming this video and the director likely had no control over which logo or product would be advertised. The ability to update such details in a scene at will, regardless of any artistic control exercised by the director, may represent an exciting new source of income in the future, but it comes at the expense of narrative control and obscures the narrative. ability of the audience to trust their own understanding of the author’s intention. Transparent digital advertising injection encourages the proliferation of the technique as a source of income, with potential positive impacts on struggling artists seeking funding, and potential negative impacts in terms of the volume of advertising we receive. are all exposed, every day. .