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Toys R Us AI-Generated Ad - Big Deal?

Toys R Us AI-Generated Ad - Big Deal?

Toys R Us has long championed the power of imagination and make-believe in fostering human development and creativity. However, the retailer's latest ad, created using generative AI, has sparked anger among some creatives. Marketed as the “first-ever brand film using OpenAI’s new text-to-video tool, Sora,” the ad showcases the history of Toys R Us, founded in 1948 by Charles Lazarus, and features its mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe.

Creation and Launch of the AI-Generated Ad

The 60-second brand film, produced by Toys R Us Studios and agency Native Foreign, used Sora to generate the animation and visuals, condensing "hundreds of iterative shots" into a couple of dozen, according to a press release. The film also includes an original music score by Aaron Marsh and corrective visual effects. A 30-second teaser was released this week on Toys R Us’ social media platforms.

Backlash from the Creative Community

Following the release, creators quickly voiced their discontent. Criticisms included the quality of the imagery and Lazarus’ likeness, which some said fell into the uncanny valley. One creator labeled the ad an “abomination.” Toys R Us has not commented on the campaign's media placement or the backlash.

Toys R Us: A Brief History and Recent Developments

After filing for bankruptcy in 2017, Toys R Us closed its stores, and its parent company, Tru Kids, later sold its controlling interest to WHP Global. The retailer now operates 1,400 locations within Macy’s department stores and at flagship locations in American Dream and Mall of America shopping centers.

AI in Advertising: A Controversial Trend

Toys R Us is not alone in facing criticism for using AI in advertising. Earlier this year, Under Armour received backlash for an AI-created spot, and Lego apologized for posting AI-generated images. As brands continue to seek cost-saving and efficiency measures, such controversies are likely to persist.

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