Technologies that reveal the most dangerous weapons against peace and security often manage to hide behind great benefits. But they destroy more than they provide. Can nuclear medicine and nuclear power make amends for the sin of nuclear weapons? Looking at the benefits of the observation of agricultural lands or search-and-rescue activities, can we say that unmanned aerial vehicles are not digital weapons that are managed from a desk, like in digital war games? Cyberweapons developed with artificial intelligence (AI) technology are not different from them. Deepfakes, which we describe in each sentence with the words “threat” and “danger,” disclose synthetic miracles that manipulate people’s perceptions of the media. Deepfakes have provided hope for the marketing world, which is losing its control of the perception management of societies because of the pandemic.
The social distancing rule, having entered into our lives with the COVID-19 pandemic, has disturbed the balance. Social isolation has taken over the world, businesses have closed, transportation has stopped, working at home has become widespread, but life goes on. Consumption also continues. So, we continue on to competition and marketing!
If we read this sentence backward, we can say that if marketing continues, life goes on. However, advertisers are sitting in the state room of marketing and have not been able to go to their agencies for weeks. They have tried to protect their brands from their computers at home. On the other hand, we know that whatever trails us in life serves marketing purposes without ever being noticed. Sport is not real competition, nor is art only a reflection of culture and aesthetics, nor is technology just a printout of science. Each of them delivers emotional messages to encourage us to adopt and purchase brands, products, and services. The economy of each one grows with the contribution it makes to the marketing company. Fashion is more transparent than them at least. It lives openly its close relationship with marketing.
The Internet: Master of the Marketing World
From the first months of 2020, due to the nightmare that the world has experienced, things have also come to a standstill in the marketing world. Is it easy to maintain the advertising and marketing cycle as before by wearing a mask and with social distancing? While advertising expenses exceeded the half-a-trillion-dollar limit in 2016, it has been estimated that it has been exceeded by $560 billion last year. We will see that the COVID-19 pandemic will have made “a journey to the past” in the marketing world this year. But we know that digital advertising takes the lion’s share spending $333 billion on advertising, with TV commercials following it with $188 billion. These two are almost $560 billion. Global social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram are the biggest slices of the digital advertising cake. While it is estimated that digital advertising will exceed half-a-trillion dollars alone and grow by nearly 100% in 2023, a decrease even in TV ads is expecte d. This scene shows us two things about marketing and advertising. First, the power of visual communication ensures that video advertising content is increasingly included in the marketing world. Second, the internet is completely superior to TV in this field and looks like it will progress to be the sole advertising media in the near future
Advertisers Could Not Cope with the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the growth of marketing at just this point. The advertising world cannot go outside, and current video marketing contents cannot be shot. Each of the current global advertisers, such as Samsung, Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal, Unilever, Volkswagen, has been spending approximately $10 million annually for advertising. However, for their ordinary big-production commercials, flashy shooting sets have not been set up for a while due to the pandemic. And, except for the Hollywood, Premier League, and NBA idols who have become the face of multiple brands, the advertising crews such as the gaffers, soundmen, cameramen, and make-up artists cannot meet on a set. Desk-bound advertising and trying to save the date by adding new texts and sounds to the stocked video is not enough for not only the consumers but also the brands.
Will Deepfakes Become a Lifesaver for Brands?
Are the advertising and marketing sectors already trying to manage their lifestyles and consumption styles by making people believe in fictional facts or not? So, who else but they go to work with deepfake technologies? It seems that the meeting of deepfakes and the advertising sector, which is one of the grey fields for turning it into a digital weapon, will pick up speed with the driving force of the pandemic.
A current example for focusing the creativity of advertising agencies on deepfakes in the pandemic process came from the United States. State Farm, one of the largest insurance groups in the country, transferred the lip movements of Kenny Mayne, a 60-year-old famous sports commentator on the channel, to a video that had been shot when he was younger. It was published in ESPN. Deepfake commercial films have been started to be published in the documentary named “Last Dance” about Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls in ESPN at the end of April. In the commercial, Mayne announces the 6th Championship of the Bulls as if he is 38 years old. He prophesies what would happen and emphasizes that the success of Jordan and the Bulls is the kind that will lead ESPN to make a documentary about them. Mayne says, “It will be called something like Last Dance and will consist of a 10-episode series and be published in 2020.” The former logo of the famous insurance company appears in the background. The 2 8-years younger face of the famous presenter says, “And this clip will be published as a State Farm commercial film in this documentary.”
Deepfake Advertising Campaigns Started Last Year
Deepfakes had already started being used by big brands before the pandemic. In 2019, David Beckham, a British football idol, gave a message in nine languages that he did not know in a commercial for the charity called Malaria No More thanks to deepfake technology. In January 2019, Doritos, one of the brands of Pepsico, started a campaign with an app named Sway for chips lovers that enables them to make a video by using AI technologies. Doritos’s campaign was about the commercial film of Superbowl (that is, the National American Football League’s final), which drew more than 800 million viewers around the world. Doritos asked the campaigners to repeat the dance movements acted by famous rapper Lil Nas X and actor Sam Elliot and share the video using the Sway app.
Deepfakes also provide the marketing world with the opportunity to offer its customers more advanced personalization experiences. Targent.ai has developed an algorithm, based on the fact that the purchase intention of the consumers are high when they have personalized experiences. For example, if a female customer is able to customize the skin, hair, lipstick color, and even the ethnicity and race of the model that exhibits the product, it becomes even easier to sell the product to her.
It is understood that even when there is not a pandemic, the advertising industry is no longer interested in spending millions of dollars on commercial film sets, actors, and a crew. Deepfakes offer them the opportunity to show their creativity by sitting at the computer, brainwashing people with the messages of the brands. The single issue is how and with whom will the advertising agencies and production companies produce the deepfake synthetic images and sounds that they designed in the development process of deepfake technologies?
Let the geniuses of fictional reality not worry about it. We will mention the “deepfake markets,” in the next article.