Deepfake technology, which helps simulate speech and interaction using a person’s image, is notorious for its misuse in misinformation campaigns and in revenge pornography, as well as its use in pop culture. The synthetic media technology is also being used by companies for innovative advertisements — some have used it to create customisable ads for users, while others have brought celebrities face-to-face with their past selves. Companies offering the technology to brands have also sprung up, bringing easier access to the technology that relies on machine learning.
A recent advertisement posted on YouTube by Pepsi India shows brand ambassador Salman Khan “travelling” back in time to meet his former self from the 1994 film Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. When the visibly younger Prem (Khan’s character in the movie) sees Khan, he asks about his future self what awaits him in the coming days. When the deepfake version of Prem asks if he eventually gets married, Khan, in his signature style, said, “Hogayi, tumhare sab girlfriends ki ” (All your girlfriends got married), leading to a look of incredulity on Prem’s face. After a brief exchange about how everything is still the same, the ad then cuts to the current day Salman talking about the aerated drink.
Meanwhile, a Bangalore-based startup called Rephrase.ai also offers brands the ability to create utilise the technology for promotional campaigns, according to Rest of World. Last year, Cadbury partnered with the startup, which created deepfake wishes for the festival of Rakhi. Actor Hritik Roshan licensed the rights to his image to Cadbury, allowing the company to create a system for users who bought a limited-edition chocolate box to scan a QR code and enter a name to get a customised wish, according to the report.
Former cricketer and national team captain Sachin Tendulkar was also part of a recent campaign by insurance firm Ageas Federal Life Insurance that recorded a 11-year-old version of Tendulkar recording a message to his future self, telling him to be fearless. The promotion cuts to Tendulkar as he appears today, telling parents to prepare for the future without fear.
Lock screen content platform Glance has also utilised the technology as part of its Har Pal Happening campaign in 2021, allowing the brand to create deepfake avatars of historical figures such as Akbar-Birbal and Laila-Majnu. According to one report, Glance saw an engagement rate of 3 million organic shares and 4 million clicks, while the campaign reached more than 31 million people.