Even if I didn’t work in advertising, I would be a connoisseur of commercials. You’re probably one, too. Think of all the tropes you’ve ingested over the years — the forest-green hatchbacks conquering rugged Western landscapes, the miles of mozzarella stretched by major pizza chains. These are the images that let you know what kind of pitch you’re watching, so you won’t be confused when the brand shows up.
The same applies to one recent video: It begins, conventionally enough, at a barbecue, where a Smash Mouth song is playing and people are chatting happily over beers. But around three seconds in, your amygdala starts paging for backup. The partygoers are laughing too aggressively. A blonde seems to be talking to her beer, which she holds in a fleshy koozie of misshapen fingers. There are strange shots of lips and drinks, cavorting without ever properly meeting. The beverages keep getting bigger, obscenely big. A fire begins spreading, filling the frame like a space-shuttle launch.
This is “Synthetic Summer,” a fake beer commercial produced entirely with generative artificial intelligence. It’s one of a handful of A.I. commercials that have been making the rounds online. “Synthetic Summer” evokes an Instagram post from the Cenobites in “Hellraiser”: a buffet of ungodly desires, remorselessly fulfilled. In another A.I. commercial, “Pepperoni Hug Spot,” we find a family pizza restaurant beset by predatory mouths and 1970s wipe transitions. Another video, a fake ad for orange juice by the artist Crypto Tea, cuts between crisp pour shots and deranged breakfasters; Donald Trump narrates.