Volkswagen Uses AI to Resurrect Late Brazilian Singer in New Ad

Image copyright: Wikimedia Commons

The Facts

  • To mark the 70th anniversary of its branch in Brazil, Volkswagen launched this month an ad campaign featuring a duet between a digitally resurrected Elis Regina, a famous Brazilian singer who died at 36 in 1982, and her daughter, the Grammy-winner Maria Rita.

  • The two-minute film — in which the fake Elis Regina drives the VW signature Kombi while Maria Rita drives the ID Buzz, the all-electric version of the classic model — brought the late singer back to life using deepfake and artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

The Spin

Narrative A

Though Elis Regina's estate gave permission for her image to be used in this ad, it's very debatable whether she would have agreed to it had she thought there was a possibility of being digitally resurrected four decades after her death. As cinematic reproductions of famous deceased artists have been on the rise as technology steadily develops, the right not to be summoned into a digital afterlife must be respected.

Narrative B

It's certain that deepfake is fascinating and controversial in the marketing field, but the reaction from the general audience to this AI-powered Volkswagen ad indicates a huge gap between ordinary people and the industry buzz. Viewers have barely discussed the technology used to create this campaign or its legal complications, focusing instead on the emotional content — and there's nothing wrong with that.

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