The way AI will be sold to a skeptical public is starting to become clear

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Many AI companies struggle with customers understanding how the product won’t take away their ability to think for themselves. A few took the opportunity of the Super Bowl to change the narrative. There’s no greater opportunity to reach 123 million live viewers at once and get massive press buzz, even if it cost $7 million for a 30-second spot.

While many tech evangelists proclaim that artificial intelligence is the future, the majority of the public remains skeptical. According to a recent Pew Research Study, 52 percent of Americans are “more concerned than excited about the growth of AI.” Only 10 percent are more excited than concerned about the possibilities.

When Chat GPT came out, people were amazed at how it could write essays or create scripts based on the dialogue from their favorite shows. That’s changing, as more stories about AI replacing jobs and the need for regulation arise. 

“There was a feeling of wonder and awe,” said advertising agency Walrus co-founder and chief creative officer Deacon Webster. “And then there was a negative feeling like, ‘Oh my God, none of us knowledge workers are going to have jobs.'”

There many winners and losers among the messages attempted by brands in the big Super Bowl advertising bets. AI was chasing an image revamp. Sunday was the first step in accomplishing that.

“Super Bowl is the last big sort of mass gathering,” Webster said. “It allows you to kind of get out there and put some brand messaging in front of tons and tons of people. I think no matter how much one-to-one advertising is out there, there’s something about sort of a shared experience.”

In Microsoft’s Super Bowl ad, a group of people overcome challenges ranging from opening their own business to getting a college degree. It’s not just thanks to their grit and ingenuity. It’s also thanks to the assistance of Copilot, Microsoft’s “everyday AI companion.”

“There’s a little bit of skepticism, hesitation in terms of how someone can go about using something so new, but not knowing that it’s actually a really accessible, relevant and simple tool to use,” said Divya Kumar, Microsoft‘s GM of search and AI marketing. “AI search has been around in the market for 20-something years. So we want to bridge that gap between the early adopters and mainstream consumers.”

Etsy showed how its AI-powered Gift Mode could help find the perfect present for France. Google Pixel’s commercial focused on how its tools help those who are visually impaired take photographs. And, Crowdstrike showed how AI tools could help fight cyberattacks in a Western cyberpunk-themed commercial. 

“It’s really giving companies a chance , especially with the advertising, to pitch their angle of how is this going to be a positive thing for people for humanity and to be able to see it in the light that it creates a positive impact,” said Gaurav Misra, CEO of AI-powered video creation software Captions.

Creations makes videos in real-time, which brings up concerns over how the technology could be abused to manipulate content and create misinformation. It can also help people connect, as a recent New York Times article about how people fell in love using Captions AI translation software pointed out. That story helped the company explain the benefits of its product.

“You can speak in English, and it’ll make it look like you’re speaking French or German or something else, right?” Misra said. “It’s the type of thing that just wouldn’t have been possible before, and opens up new sort of possibilities of what people can do with it, and how people can communicate across different languages and cultures.”

There’s no bigger stage to get your humanizing message across than the Super Bowl, Microsoft’s Kumar said. The company also timed the ad campaign to a full user interface redesign of Copilot, which made it easier to see the prompts and gave more visual examples. It used real-life examples from customers to create the ad.

“It’s also a good learning experience because this is a great way for us to reach out to an audience that otherwise might not be fully in the know what Copilot can do, and then also learn from that experience in the upcoming marketing beats that we want to do,” she said.

Microsoft recently expanded access of Copilot to the small business community and launched a new premium subscription for individuals.

David Jones, The Brandtech Group founder and CEO, what America watched Sunday was the first attempt to have people understand that AI will change every aspect of our lives by doing everything better, faster and cheaper.

“What we saw in the Super Bowl are the embryonic early steps in this, but pretty soon it will be as pervasive as mobile or the internet or electricity,” said Jones, whose firm focuses on digital and generative AI marketing companies. “Nobody asks today ‘how will the internet be sold to us’ or ‘how will mobile be sold to us.’ They are at the heart of everything we do. (Generative) AI will be the same, but on steroids.”

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