How Under Armour's AI Ad Caused Backlash and Why It Matters

How Under Armour's AI Ad Caused Backlash and Why It Matters
News by Vianca Meyer
Published: March 26, 2024

Under Armour's latest commercial, featuring boxer Anthony Joshua has ignited a fierce debate within the creative community.

Directed by Wes Walker, the ad is touted as the first AI-powered sports commercial video but has faced criticism for allegedly reusing previous work without proper credit.

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A post shared by Wes Walker (@wes_walker_)

What’s at the Heart of the Controversy?

The commercial, which combines AI and 3D CGI imagery with existing footage and recordings, has been criticized not only for its method but for failing to credit creators of reused content.

Gustav Johansson, a director whose work was repurposed, highlighted the issue:

"Cool film but all the stuff with Joshua is shot by André Chementof and from a commercial I did?" Johansson commented, pointing out the pretty embarrassing oversight.

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A post shared by Gustav Johansson (@gustav_johansson)

Walker defended his approach, though, emphasizing the ad's inventive blend of AI and live-action footage.

"Under Armour asked us to build a film from nothing but existing assets," Walker said.

Still, his reassurance did little to quell the discontent among his peers, who accused the project of being a cost-cutting move rather than an actual innovation.

The Backfire Heard Around the Globe

It's worth noting that the backlash wasn't limited to individual creators.

The controversy has prompted broader discussions about AI advertising and the ethical implications of creative work reuse.

"If you don't honor and protect others in this industry, you're part of the problem. AI needs to be regulated into the ground, not embraced as 'normal change'," one Instagram user argued.

The incident has sparked a debate about accreditation and the ethical use of AI in creative fields but also affected Under Armour's brand sentiment.

According to media intelligence firm CARMA, negative sentiment toward the brand has increased following the commercial's release.

This unfortunate situation highlights the growing tension between tech advancement and creative integrity.

As the industry wrestles with what is and isn’t acceptable, there’s a clear call for more stringent and straightforward guidelines that pay respect to creatives whose work is being used in AI-generated content.

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