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An ESPN Commercial Hints at Advertising's Deepfake Future

By The New York Times

April 24, 2020

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Unable to film new commercials during the coronavirus pandemic, advertising agencies are turning to technologies that can seamlessly alter old footage, sometimes putting viewers in a position of doubting what they are seeing.

During Sunday's episodes of "The Last Dance," the ESPN documentary series about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, State Farm ran a commercial featuring expertly doctored footage of the longtime "SportsCenter" anchor Kenny Mayne.

In the ad, a much younger Mr. Mayne is seated at the "SportsCenter" desk in 1998. He reports on the Bulls' sixth championship title — before taking a turn toward the prophetic.

"This is the kind of stuff that ESPN will eventually make a documentary about," Mr. Mayne says. "They'll call it something like 'The Last Dance.' They'll make it a 10-part series and release it in the year 2020. It's going to be lit. You don't even know what that means yet." As a vintage State Farm logo appears in the background, he adds, "And this clip will be used to promote the documentary in a State Farm commercial."

From The New York Times
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