Creative Andrey Tyukavkin made faux video recommendations from industry leaders using the machine-learning tech
May 02, 2019
Deepfake videos arguably have become a growing concern in politics ahead of the upcoming elections. But now, someone is trying to use them as a tool to sway agency recruiters by creating faux recommendations from some of the industry’s biggest names.
Andrew Tyukavkin, an ECD at Publicis Latvia and Lithuania, deepfaked video recommendations from CP&B Chief Creative Engineer Alex Bogusky, Droga5 Founder and Creative Chairman David Droga, Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun and Hasan & Partners CEO/CCO Eka Ruola to beef up his portfolio.
The films, which also poke fun at major news involving the execs (like Publicis' Marcel and Accenture's recent Droga5 acquisition), are so crudely executed that they’re funny—the accents of the leaders have strong to mild whiffs of Eastern European, though the leaders hail from France, Australia and the U.S. While the faces themselves are surprisingly lifelike, they’re placed on heads and bodies that don’t seem to match up with the real thing. Bogusky and Sadoun’s hairdos, for example, look extra fluffy, while the Droga doppelganger appears a bit more portly than his real-life counterpart.
Yet they’re so mesmerizing, you can’t help but watch—so much so you might not even pay attention to their words recommending Tyukavkin as the “ideal creative."
But perhaps the bigger point is to show off his creative tech chops. "I used to be a programmer before coming to advertising in 2009, but had never worked with neural networks or deepfakes before," he says. "I tried to sell our clients a couple of solutions like that in the last two years but they wouldn't buy it. And this was partially the reason to try it myself—to show them the benefits of using deepfakes creatively. So I first started to train models in October 2018, and slowly got a plan to 'forge' some fake recommendations. I applied some WD-40 to my rusty coding skills, found a good piece of neural network software on GitHub and went on experimenting."
Tyukavkin acknowledges that the fakes aren’t perfect. Throughout the process of creating them, he worked on improving the execution, but at a certain point thought, “Do I want to forge a perfect fake? I realized that by doing this, I’d remove all humor from the project. Even with good light and actors, I’d still be at 85 or 95 percent but never 100 percent. So I decided to do it all myself instead, in an obviously satirical way.”
Tyukavkin himself plays each leader. “If you look at Arthur, I even have dry shampoo on my shoulders that I used to gray my hair,” he says. He considered other leaders for the project, but some didn’t work out so well. “The algorithm works well for certain pairs of faces only, with certain angles and lighting,” he says. “If only you saw my [John] Hegarty, you'd have a heart attack.”
“I don’t really want to fool people,” he says of the project. “I want to make them smile--and remember me in a good way, of course!”