For Marketers, Does It Even Matter If It's Not Real?


Anne-Sophie Scharff | April 17, 2023

The latest campaign from Jacquemus features digitally generated images of "Bambino bag" cars zipping around Parisian landmarks.Credit: Courtesy.

As the use of artificial intelligence opens up more opportunities for brands to express their creativity on social media, does it even matter to marketers whether the content created is real or not, if the reactions or responses from their audiences are positive?

Earlier this month, when French luxury brand Jacquemus unveiled a video on social media featuring its Bambino bags driving around in Paris, the unexpected sight immediately drew responses of wonderment and joy, followed by questions of how the brand managed to create car-sized bags and whether this actually was actually happening in real life?

As it turns out, these bags on wheels were not real, and in reality, were 3D renderings. However, that didn’t stop the content from going viral and gathering over 1.3 million likes on Instagram. The video, which comes just after the brand concluded its immersive pop-up experience at Galeries Lafayettes, has now been praised for its creativity and originality by hundreds of users online. A highly effective move.

But what does this mean for luxury marketing? Are we moving towards more tech-created campaigns at the expense of real-life productions? And do we even care that the content created didn’t even happen in real life?

Clearly, there are a lot of benefits to this approach but there are also several points of caution that should not be overlooked.

Imagine if the Jacquemus video had been real. The planning, investment and energy that would have gone into building these car-sized bags, wouldn’t have made sense for the production of an 8-second social media video. And we’re not even mentioning the logistics required to film in the streets of Paris and other miscellaneous production hurdles.

Using other technologies such as 3D renderings has brought to life something that would have been too complex in real life. This is always a big debate for marketers looking to maximise their exposure within a set marketing budget.

Technology is opening up a new world of opportunities for brands and allowing them to explore ideas that not that long ago were not within the realm of possibility.

That being said, artificial intelligence (AI) and related technologies should not take over the whole creative process. These tools should be used in support of human creativity and enable it to be pushed further. By nature, AI creates outputs based on existing data and identified patterns. Relying solely on them would mean staying within a fixed set of ideas. Brands should prioritise human creativity to think outside the box and then use technology to assist with production and implementation.

What’s also really interesting about the Jacquemus example is that people did not seem to care that it did not actually happen. ‘Oh, this wasn’t real?’

Still genius anyway. It was giving off the vibe of an April Fool's prank gone right.

In an era where authenticity is the golden standard for brands, the idea of something not being real is somewhat of a conundrum. When pictures of Pope Francis sporting a white puffer jacket surfaced online, it quickly went viral with everyone sharing it, not questioning whether it was real. However, when we later found out these pictures were AI-generated, users were not too pleased, leaving us with a little distrust. This highlights some of the limitations of AI-generated content. Creating fake content that involves public figures somehow crosses a boundary and this isn’t something that brands should get into, unless it’s very clear from the start that it isn’t real.

Even beyond public figures, working with AI-generated people can be a risk for brands. A few weeks ago, Levis announced that they were going to test AI-generated clothing models in order to increase diversity and representation on their website. The brand quickly faced some backlash with users perceiving the move as a substitute for the real actions that must be taken in order for the company to deliver on its Diversity and Inclusion commitments.

Brands should use these technologies to enhance creativity and not as shortcuts for actions or initiatives that really should be taking place in the real world. What worked for Jacquemus is that they put the focus on their own products and created a narrative that was fully aligned with their brand universe.

Overall, these types of campaigns and content are still very new and it will most likely take some time before more brands start to embrace the opportunities of AI and other associated technologies for their marketing. When interviewed about the creative process behind the video, 3D artist Ian Padgham mentioned that the Jacquemus team initially rejected the idea as it did not fit what they had in mind.

While many luxury brands have already embraced AI to assist with personalisation or process optimisation, its use for marketing purposes is still quite rare. Just like with every new technology, adoption will take time but there’s true potential for brands willing to experiment with it.

Remember that phrase: If you did not take a picture, did it even happen? Well, now it doesn’t even need to have happened if you want to post about it. And this is just the beginning.

Welcome to DLG Insights, a new series of articles written and produced by our parent company's in-house experts. At DLG, we firmly believe in the future of AI and the opportunity it represents for brands. If you are a luxury or lifestyle brand that is interested in speaking with us about it, you can contact us here.

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