“Nightmarish” AI Commercials Show Limits of “ChatGPT” For Video

Is there a future for human content-creators in a post-ChatGPT world?

That’s what many content marketers, journalists and even some artists are nervously asking themselves, as AI chatbots and realistic text-to-image technology (most famously Midjourney) explode in both quality and quantity.

But until recently, “text-to-video” was far more rudimentary, with algorithms regurgitating stock footage and stitching it together like a lazy marketing intern. There was no conjuring up of startlingly-real, original videos with just a few prompts.

So when a string of fictitious, AI-produced video ads surfaced in the last few weeks that generated video from scratch, new ground appeared to have been broken. But as impressive as that may sound, the results are a little… rough around the edges, to say the least.

“Really Weird”

The first such video was released in late April by London-based production company Private Island. It was meant to be a beer ad, but the utterly hilarious-yet-creepy result – entitled “Synthetic Summer” – went viral almost as soon as it was uploaded to their Instagram page.

It turns out that Artificial Intelligence doesn’t quite get the mechanics of drinking a beer with friends. In fact, the algorithm didn’t seem to understand the mechanics of drinking at all. Or barbecues. Or beer. Or talking. Or laughing. Or… well… see for yourself:



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A post shared by Private Island (@privateislandtv)

The first few seconds seem fairly normal, if a bit trippy, and the nostalgic sound of “All Stars” by 1990’s rock band Smash Mouth is definitely a nice touch. But the video quickly spirals into something much more bizarre. Or as one commentator noted: “It feels like a bad acid trip.” 

We go from people laughing in ways that aren’t humanly possible; to choosing increasingly odd ways of drinking from (sometimes floating?) beer cans. Eventually, the algorithm seems to have given up hope altogether: with an exquisite sense of timing the Smash Mouth song starts skipping, as the BBQ spews out a column of fire that consumes the still-jolly partygoers. 

Then there’s the fact that all the people have at least 12 fingers on each hand. While the likes of Midjourney and co. have ironed out these glitches when producing still images, it seems that accurately representing human beings in a video is a lot more challenging.

“So Creepy But I Can’t Stop Laughing”

The next day, a different artist took to Twitter and YouTube to release their own AI-generated ad – this time for a fictitious pizza joint. “Definitely wasted 3 hours of my life making this today,” mused the artist behind the Twitter handle Pizza Later. “Everything is AI from the VO to the video and images. Assembled in After Effects. More info below.”

Again, the results were both terrifying and hilarious. “Videos generated by artificial intelligence are like fever dreams,” said one YouTube commenter, while another one remarked: “Yes AI, please give me an early 90s Pizza Hut commercial but in the style of a terrible nightmare.” “So creepy but I can’t stop laughing,” said a third.

This video is arguably more disturbing than the previous one, with close ups of demonic-looking customers devouring something that kind of resembles pizza. Although admittedly they don’t have quite as many fingers as the people from the beer ad.

“It’s like family, but with more cheese,” the video ends. Sure.

So can videographers, video editors and other video-related professions all breathe a sigh of relief? For now, probably. But if the rapid evolution of related technologies like ChatGPT is any indicator, they might not have as long as they think.