Celebrities are now leveraging AI-generated duplicates of themselves, leading to new opportunities for brands. Previously, digital replicas of famous faces were appearing online without consent. However, celebrities are now embracing this trend, striking deals with brands to incorporate AI-created duplicates in marketing campaigns. This gives them greater control over their own likenesses and more flexibility in the types of collaborations they can pursue. Brands, on the other hand, can utilize these digital duplicates in innovative ways that were previously impossible with real celebrities, such as altering their appearance, showcasing extraordinary feats, and engaging in spontaneous conversations with customers.
By spending just a few minutes in a studio with a 3-D scanner, stars can create representations of themselves that can be used for numerous hours of content. For example, Puma partnered with international soccer star Neymar to unveil a new product line at New York Fashion Week. Neymar appeared as an AI-generated 3-D avatar, showcasing Puma’s fashion during a virtual event alongside the brand’s runway show. Puma can now utilize Neymar’s digital double in various settings throughout their contract, expanding the possibilities beyond what was previously achievable. Similar partnerships and collaborations between celebrities and brands are commonplace, with enormous sums of money involved.
Traditionally, celebrities have relinquished some control over their likenesses and marketing content to brand partners. However, the emergence of virtual duplicates has the potential to permanently alter these dynamics. Celebrities can now appear in ways that were previously impossible. For instance, AI was used to recreate former NFL star Deion Sanders as he appeared on the night of the 1989 NFL draft, promoting Procter & Gamble’s Gillette razor brand. Golf legend Jack Nicklaus has also collaborated with an AI company to create an AI-powered version of himself at the peak of his career. These digital duplicates allow for emotional connection, entertainment, and real-time interaction, shaping the future of marketing.
Hollywood talent agency CAA, along with AI companies like Metaphysic and Soul Machines, is working to understand the implications and provide guidance to their clients on leveraging AI for career advancement and protection. Fashion models, who traditionally don’t own the rights to their own images, are also exploring ways to actively manage their digital identities. Supermodel Eva Herzigova, for example, unveiled a virtual version of herself that can walk the runway in online fashion shows, with ownership resting with her and her agency rather than brands or photography studios.
Marketers foresee increased interactivity between consumers and these digital duplicates. Companies like Soul Machines have already created interactive versions for several celebrities, allowing fans to engage with their digital personalities on social media platforms. However, the use of large-language models like ChatGPT raises concerns about reputational risks and control over AI-generated conversations. Legal ownership of AI-generated likenesses is another issue that needs to be addressed, along with the development of standards to distinguish legitimate uses from illegitimate ones.
The introduction of clearer ownership standards, such as copyrights, would enable both celebrities and average individuals to protect their likenesses and take legal action if used without permission. Additionally, the potential for confusion among consumers, who may mistake virtual versions of celebrities for real images or videos, remains a challenge that requires further discussion. As AI technology continues to evolve, it is necessary to address these issues and have open conversations about the implications and boundaries of this rapidly advancing field.