AI Companies Opt for Subtlety in Super Bowl Commercials

Analyzing the AI-focused ads broadcasted during Super Bowl LVIII and what it means for the industry.
"The AI Economy," a newsletter exploring AI's impact on business, work, society and tech.
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Welcome back to your AI weekly roundup, where we dive into the latest developments in artificial intelligence.

In this issue, we explore how tech companies highlighted their AI innovations during the Super Bowl, discuss OpenAI’s introduction of a powerful generative AI tool for producing photorealistic videos, and examine why Nvidia has now exceeded Amazon in value.

The Prompt

It’s one of those newsletters where we take a look back at Super Bowl LVIII. But it’s not about who won (unfortunately, not my beloved San Francisco 49ers), but the commercials.

In 2023, the NFL’s big game got tagged as the “Crypto Bowl” thanks to a ton of crypto companies advertising. Now, with crypto hitting a rough patch and AI buzz taking over, would we be bombarded with AI ads?

Turns out, no. There were probably a handful of commercials produced pitching AI including Microsoft, Anthropic, Google, and Crowdstrike. For those ads fortunate enough to make the televised cut, the focus shifted away from the technology itself and towards the potential for streamlining our lives. It was less about what Large Language Model was used, GPTs you can download from a store, or any other blatant plug for AI itself. Instead, the technology blended into the background, quietly helping to promote the software it was baked into.

“AI is not some ethereal giant thing that’s housed somewhere. It’s the thing that’s going to be right in front of you to do little things that matter and that add up to big things. It’s not just these giant things you hear about like curing cancer and saving the world,” Microsoft Chief Brand Officer Kathleen Hall said in an interview with Digiday’s Marty Swant.

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In its Super Bowl ad, the Windows maker showcased how its AI companion app, Copilot, can empower us to turn ideas into action and hope into reality.

Google’s TV spot didn’t mention Gemini, Google Assistant or PaLM. Rather, the company plugged the accessibility features its Pixel 8 smartphone provided.

Anthropic was perhaps the only tech company that explicitly mentioned AI during the Super Bowl. However, if you blinked, you might have missed it, since it was only a five-second commercial with just text on the screen reading “Claude is a next-generation AI assistant.”

Additionally, a non-tech company produced at least one AI-related commercial. Illumination, as part of its promotion for “Despicable Me 4,” aired a spot featuring minions humorously mocking the limitations of DALL-E and other text-to-image tools.

All in all, to appeal to the mainstream, tech companies opted not to toss AI in our faces and instead chose wisely to spend $7 million to promote the benefits and use cases. It’s a smart move, especially with growing concern over AI’s influence on deepfakes and misinformation.

Now, as to whether any of these commercials were effective in enticing people to try out these products is another story.

Editor’s note

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A Closer Look

OpenAI made headlines once again this week and for at least several reasons. It disclosed that state-affiliated threat actors were using AI to conduct malicious cybersecurity attacks. Then, it’s reported that CEO Sam Altman is negotiating with the U.S. to receive its blessing before raising billions for his AI chip venture. And let’s not forget about OpenAI possibly building a Bing-powered search engine

But it’s the unveiling of Sora that has everyone talking.

OpenAI’s text-to-video gen AI hasn’t been released to the public yet, but the company did offer a glimpse of some clips created by it. These brief clips are astonishingly photorealistic and may leave you eager to try your hand at filmmaking. However, OpenAI has announced that only selected creators and researchers will have access to it for now as it continues to look for ways to minimize the risk of Sora being misused for misinformation or deepfakes.

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While Gen AI video creation has been around for a while, the quality and duration have consistently fallen short. And there’s no shortage of options, from DeepBrain AI and Synthesia to Lumen5 and Kapwing. OpenAI’s entry with Sora likely makes it the dominant player in the space, thanks to the training data it has at its disposal.

From Wired’s Steven Levy:

While the scenes are certainly impressive, the most startling of Sora’s capabilities are those that it has not been trained for. Powered by a version of the diffusion model used by OpenAI’s Dalle-3 image generator as well as the transformer-based engine of GPT-4, Sora does not merely churn out videos that fulfill the demands of the prompts, but does so in a way that shows an emergent grasp of cinematic grammar.

I imagine startups consumerizing text-to-video like Aug X Labs can’t wait for OpenAI to grant them access to Sora.

But as we witness the scary progress of gen AI video, it’s a reminder of what will happen to filmmaking, TV shows, media and also video games — you think rendering using Unreal Engines is something? Just wait…

Sora, like other AI tools, is having a polarizing effect on the creative community with job displacement being cited as the biggest risk. And there’s also the larger copyright issue that has yet to be resolved.

And if you think it’s hard now to decipher whether something is real or AI-generated, it might be near-impossible in the coming future.

Be sure to read Dan Shipper’s article discussing the future of filmmaking for an insightful analysis of Sora’s influence.

Today’s Visual Snapshot

This week, Nvidia’s market capitalization surpassed Amazon’s, making the chip maker the fourth most valuable company in the world. The strong demand for AI chips is credited to Nvidia’s skyrocketing prosperity.

Despite both companies boasting strong earnings previously, the graphs above illustrate Nvidia’s market cap steadily converging with Amazon’s, particularly since late 2021. Additionally, Nvidia’s growth increased by nearly 400 percent in the past two years compared to Amazon’s 7.6 percent over the same period.

Nvidia will likely continue to see growing demand for its chips as AI innovation doesn’t appear to be dying out any time soon.

Quote This

Sam, please don’t make me homeless

— Content creator MrBeast, pleading to OpenAI CEO Sam Altman (likely in jest), after the company unveiled its Sora video generation model

Neural Nuggets

An AI-generated image of a robot reading a newspaper.
An AI-generated image of a robot reading a newspaper.

🏭 General Industry News

🤖 Machine Learning

✏️ Generative AI

🛒 Commerce

☁️ Enterprise

⚙️ Hardware

🔬 Science and Breakthroughs

💼 Business and Marketing

💰 Funding

⚖️ Copyright and Regulatory Issues

💥 Disruption and Misinformation

🔎 Opinions and Research

End Output

I hope you enjoyed diving into the latest articles on “The AI Economy!”

I’m eager to hear your thoughts on this edition. What struck a chord with you, and what left you scratching your head? Leave a comment or shoot me a message on LinkedIn with your feedback — it’s the secret sauce that makes this journey worthwhile.

Missed any articles this week? I know staying up-to-date on all the AI news can feel overwhelming. Fret not; I’m curating the big stories in my Flipboard Magazine, “The AI Economy.”

Follow my Flipboard Magazine for all the latest AI news I curate for "The AI Economy" newsletter.
Follow my Flipboard Magazine for all the latest AI news I curate for “The AI Economy” newsletter.

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Until next week, stay curious!

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