IBM Watson AI wrote the script for Lexus’ latest car ad

Lexus’ latest car ad may have Oscar-winning director Kevin MacDonald at the helm, but IBM’s Watson AI dreamt up its entire script.

According to Lexus, “Driven by Intuition” is a mirror to both the advert’s creative process and the relationship between driver and car. It melds the scripting talents of Watson with the directorial nouse of MacDonald, just like Lexus’ vehicle AI steps in to enhance the human-orchestrated driving experience. It’s a long shot, for sure, but its supposed to help explore the importance of intuition and the relationship between two creative forces.

The result of the collaboration is a minute-long film telling the story of a Lexus Takumi Master Craftsman who completes his painstaking work to release the new Lexus ES into the world, only for it to be taken away and threatened with destruction. At the crucial moment, the car’s automatic emergency braking system cuts in to save the day, supposedly demonstrating the value and effectiveness of the intuitive technology built into it.

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“When I was handed the script, the melodrama of the story convinced me of its potential,” said MacDonald. “The fact the AI gave a fellow machine sentience, placed it in a sort of combat situation, and then had it escaping into the sunset was such an emotional response from what is essentially a digital platform.

“The charmingly simplistic way the AI wrote the story was both fascinating in its interpretation of human emotion, and yet still unexpected enough to give the film a clearly non-human edge.”

This “non-human edge” is provided by a startup called Visual Voice, which uses IBM Watson technology. The first step in creating the advert was to review 15 years-worth of Cannes Lion’s award-winning automotive adverts with a number of AI visual recognition tools.

The tools focused on collecting data such as actions, objects, locations and emotion contained within the adverts. Adverts that expressed intuition, instinct and knowledge were given higher relevance scoring, with other aspects organised and categorised around these pillars.

Once this data had been collected, the Visual Voice AI platform was used to analyse the large quantities of information for trends and correlations, such as things that typically happen in the middle of an advert and objects and locations which frequently occur together. From the initial findings, it was apparent there was common themes and elements that occurred in successful car adverts.

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“This was both a highly challenging and deeply fascinating project to have had the privilege to be a part of,” said Alex Newland, co-founder of Visual Voice. “From the outset, it was almost impossible to know what level of quality or intelligibility the AI would produce.

“To see the project brought together with such a rich finished piece is extremely satisfying and exciting to witness. We believe this project moves AI-generated content into the beginnings of true, stand-alone creative merit.”

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