Toys ‘R’ Us made an ad almost entirely AI. It’s a sign of how far the tech has come — and where it could go

Damond Isiaka
4 Min Read


CNN
 — 

Toys “R” Us is proving artificial intelligence could have a future in film.

The retail toy brand premiered a short promo film at the 2024 Cannes Lions Festival in France this week that was created almost entirely by using OpenAI’s new text-to-video tool.

The company’s entertainment studio partnered with creative agency Native Foreign, which had early access to Sora. Toys “R” Us said it believes it is the first brand to debut a film using the technology. The tool is not yet publicly available.

The 66-second promo follows a young Toys “R” Us founder, Charles Lazarus, who had a vision to transform toy stores with the help of the brand’s mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe, who came to him in a dream. Reactions to the clip were mixed on social media, with some calling it a compelling, fascinating look into the future of film; others called it “creepy.”

Toys “R” Us said that in addition to Sora, it used some corrective visual effects and an original music score.

In February, OpenAI – the company behind the viral ChatGPT chatbot – introduced the AI model Sora which it claimed can create realistic and imaginative videos from quick text prompts. It said the tool is capable of generating videos up to 60 seconds and can serve up scenes with multiple characters, specific types of motion and detailed background details.

Following the announcement, experts said text-to-video types of AI models could have the potential to disrupt the digital entertainment market.

Kim Miller, CMO of Toys “R” Us Creative studios, told CNN the concept was born after she attended a brand storytelling group and told the host she wanted to do something “fun” and “different” for their next project, which involved the origin story of the founder.

After Native Foreign became an early tester of Sora, chief creative officer Nik Kleverov, chief creative officer called Miller with the proposal to join forces.

“Everything you see was created with text but some shots came together quicker than others; some took more iterations,” he said. “The blocking, the way the character looks, what they’re wearing, the emotion, the background – it has to be a perfect dance. Sometimes you would create something that was almost right and other times not so right.”

Miller said there was also a lot of gut checking and human involvement throughout the process.

“Sometimes it would check a box, but maybe a reaction wouldn’t be on time with what was going on,” she said. “It was a lot of learning and a lot of back and forth. It was an educational process.”

Miller, who was an early adopter of Facebook Live when she worked with Martha Stewart, believes the best way to understand technology is to actually experience it, rather than just going off what you’re hearing from other people.

“The same is true for AI,” she said.

She added Toys “R” Us is currently exploring advertising opportunities for the promo.

“Our big mission is to make sure everyone knows there is a Toys ‘R’ Us in every Macy’s, so there may be a holiday iteration of it coming soon,” Miller said.

OpenAI has not yet announced an official release date for Sora but rumors indicate it could launch later this summer.

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