Predicting the future is hard, if not impossible. Yet, many of us are wondering what the world will look like in the distant future. Will homo sapiens evolve? Or will the human species go extinct? Will climate change turn into a catastrophe? Will aliens invade us? Or, will we colonize other planets? Lastly, with the rise of AI, will we manage to live harmoniously with robots?
There are many questions around the latter: Will robots take our jobs? Are humans ready to accept an intimate relationship with intelligent humanoid robots? And, probably the worst-case scenario, will AI become the dominant form of intelligence on Earth? Edeka, a German supermarket corporation, “traveled” in time and landed in 2117. They think that by then, robots will have already taken control.
During our weekly #ThrowBrandThursday column, we usually go back in time. Sure, Edeka’s campaign was made in the past but it is weird how it actually takes us in the future. And a gloomy one: It’s the year 2117 and the streets of a city are empty and covered with dust. The buildings are abandoned. Simply put, there’s no trace of human life. Yet, robots haunt the streets. The weird-looking droids — but not as weird as Boston Dynamics’ ones — move in groups with one member getting distracted by something.
A poster for a Christmas movie steals its attention, so the AI sets off in search of what defines this holiday. Moved by human features, the robot is preparing its own Christmas party. The empty shops offer it plenty of resources from which it can choose to organize its party: a Christmas tree, food, presents, and mannequins. Yet, something’s missing: emotions!
A photo gives clues on where humans might live so the robot starts a new mission. After a long journey, this Mecha meets an Orga, who invite it over for dinner. Among stories and laughter, the robot discovers that “without love, it’s just a celebration.”
The film is directed by MJZ’s Matthijs van Heijningen with concept and idea by creative agency Jung von Matt and VFX by Moving Picture Company. “I’m very proud to have helped realize Matthijs’ vision”, said Diarmid Harrison-Murray, MPC’s VFX Supervisor. “It pulls at the heartstrings — just what you want and expect from a Christmas ad — but with a unique idea. As we follow our hero’s story, it’s the delicate nuances that make him engaging. Conveying subtle emotion in a robotic character is tricky. We were striving to set the dial right in each scene — tough in a film with over 80 CG shots.”
The short film reminds us of Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence movie, in which Mecha kid David aims to become an Orga so that it can regain the love of Monica, its human mother. Thanks to a code its mom reads to it, David is capable of love. In a similar way, the emotions of Edeka’s protagonist are triggered, the exception being the fact that it’s not a series of words that unlock joy, but rather a tiny heart that the girl places on its chest.
On the first day, the video gathered over 400,000 views on YouTube and 1,8 million on Facebook. Three years after its release, the film has over 4,5 million views on YouTube.
Agency: Jung von Matt
Director: Matthijs van Heijningen