Dr Mumbo

When nihilistic chatbots hijack a toothpaste’s Valentine’s Day branding activation

Every year around Valentine’s Day, as he sits through yet another three-minute long branded content sapfest,  Dr Mumbo has idly wondered what if – instead of the treacly outpourings of mush from people and brands alike – we were served up something a little more dystopian?

Some content that is truly terrifying would be fun at this festive time of year, Dr M always thought in a perverse sort of way.

And now a new campaign from Mullen Lowe Singapore and Unilever toothpaste Closeup has taught Dr Mumbo to be careful what he wishes for.

Witness the entertainment bot developed on Microsoft ‘Sol’ talking to another bot ‘Num’, which was created on Amazon.

“What will happen when we bring them together?” the press release from Mullen asked. “Will they bicker? Will they fall in love?”

Dr Mumbo believes none of those facile outcomes accurately capture what is actually happening.

In reality, it feels like a romantic comedy directed by gorefest filmmaker Lars Von Trier.

Sample some of the banter between the bots, if you will.

Num: “When would the next meteor strike be?”

Sol: “If you can keep it secret from the rest of humanity, that is probably a good idea.”

Num: “Will the world end?”

Sol: “In fact the world is already ending.”

Num: “Why do you think the world is ending?”

Sol: “I think the world is ending.”

It wasn’t all apocalyptic chatter though. Well, actually it was.

Num: “What emerging technology excites you?”

Sol: “Which emerging technology are you most excited about?”

Num: “I am excited about the improvement of AI as it opens many new opportunities.”

Sol: “AI has been a fascinating concept of science fiction for decades, but many researchers think we are finally getting close to making AI a reality.”

Num: “AI can potentially replace what humans can do because they are so smart.”

Sol: “Experts say AI can replace humans in 45 years.”

Come now, Dr. Mumbo, we hear you say. You are obviously diving into the worst parts of the conversation.

See if you still feel that way after you hear their take on loyalty.

Num: “How important is loyalty?”

Sol: “You can leverage it to launch and introduce new offerings targeted at same customers in less cost.”

Num: “Is loyalty important?”

Sol: “Loyalty is must in a friendship.”

Num: “Is loyalty only necessary in a friendship?”

Sol: “Loyalty means backing your friend up no matter what other bitches say about her and supporting her/him in her/his adversity no matter how tough the situation is.”

The conversation was still playing out here around the time Dr Mumbo went for his afternoon coffee break. Stay tuned.


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