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Toys R Us AI Commercial Receives Flak For Inconsistent, Unnatural Visuals [Video]


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Toys “R” Us has faced online backlash after releasing an ad created using OpenAI’s new video generation tool, Sora. Although Sora is not yet publicly available, AI enthusiasts have been experimenting with other video generators, such as Luma Labs Dream Machine, to create surreal clips from iconic memes.

The AI-generated Toys “R” Us AI ad depicts the company’s founder, Charles Lazarus, inspired to create the brand after experiencing a vivid dream. While some AI enthusiasts were excited about the commercial use of AI, many critics found the ad’s footage repulsive. The ad showcases both the capabilities and weaknesses of AI-generated video, as it struggles with consistent character models. Young Charles morphs throughout the video, prompting one commentator to compare the boy to a figure from a “weird dream.”

The chosen footage for the final edit, filled with errors such as melting half-bicycles, wonky window panes, and a dead-eyed stare from an AI-generated man, highlights the machine’s limitations. Charles’ sudden head turn feels unnatural, and the toy shelves in his dream feature distorted toys, as if his subconscious is struggling to recall what toys actually look like.

Generative AI is under increased scrutiny due to its impact on the power grid and the potential devaluation of human creative expression. Critics argue that using AI for creative tasks is cheap and disrespectful to artists whose work is often used without permission to train AI models.

On social media platform X, one commentator expressed cynicism: “There’s something so cynical about creating an ad about the limitless imagination of a child and then rendering it with soulless AI slop.” Another added: “We all cheered when Toys ‘R’ Us returned from near death, but now we all want to send it straight to hell. What a gross slap in the face to the whole toys industry. And beyond that, to the ENTIRE idea of imaginative play. An abysmal insult. Shame on everyone involved.”

In a press release, Kim Miller Olko, Toys “R” Us Global Chief Marketing Officer and President of Toys “R” Us Studios, defended the Toys “R” Us AI commercial as an innovation: “Charles Lazarus was a visionary ahead of his time and we wanted to honor his legacy with a spot using the most cutting-edge technology available,” Olko said. “Our brand embraces innovation and the emotional appeal of Toys ‘R’ Us to connect with consumers in unexpected ways. We aim to capture that nostalgic feeling and deliver it uniquely to Toys ‘R’ Us kids of all ages.”

Critics are concerned about using generative AI to target children, arguing that young minds deserve art created by humans. The backlash intensified with Amazon’s announcement of a new AI-created Winnie-the-Pooh series for “production efficiency,” which was criticized for using AI to cut costs and for its unedited, flawed promo image.

The use of generative AI in children’s media, including the infamous Glasgow Willy Wonka fiasco, has led to a surge of low-quality content flooding the internet, prompting growing backlash against the automation of art.

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