VW Brazil Elis Regina deepfake advert

Occurred: August 2023

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An advert celebrating VW's 70th year operating in Brazil by simulating renown Brazilian singer Elis Regina, who died in 1982 at the age of 36, has sparked questions about the ethics of using artificial intelligence to simulate the image and likeness of a dead person.

The advert, which reputedly took over 2,400 hours to produce, saw an actress and deepfake technology make it appear as if Regina was performing her 1976 hit Como Nossos Pais in a duet with her daughter Maria Rita while driving a VW van. 

Many Brazilians commented that the ad was profoundly nostalgic and moving. However, Brazilian advertising regulator watchdog Conar announced it would investigate a possible breach of ethics after receiving complaints questioning whether it was right to use such methods 'to bring a deceased person back to life' on screen. 

Conar also raised concerns about whether synthetic media may cause some people, notably children and teenagers, to confuse fiction with reality. Others pointed out Regina's vocal opposition to the military dictatorship that governed Brazil from 1964 to 1985, and the latter's closeness to VW. 

Operator: Volkswagen
Developer: AlmapBBDO

Country: Brazil

Sector: Business/professional services

Purpose: Recreate singer

Technology: Deepfake - video, audio; Generative adversarial network (GAN); Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Legal; Ethics

Transparency: Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: August 2023