Design Army used AI to craft a surrealist, retro-future ‘A-Eye’ campaign for Georgetown Optician
CCO Pum Lefebure on what she’s been learning about how to make the most of human-machine collaborations
Design Army’s work for Georgetown Optician has been delightfully arch over the years, beginning with the 2015 spot “Our Family Knows Glasses,” which felt like Wes Anderson meets the Addams Family.
For their latest collaboration, Design Army enlisted AI as a helper. The result is a surreal play on sci-fi movies, with the theme “Adventures in A-Eye.” (Get it?) In a first for the highly regarded Washington, D.C., design shop, they fired up Midjourney to create everything from the talent to the wardrobe, the locations to the landscapes. Then, they added Georgetown Optician’s eyewear in post—resulting in a human-machine collab that feels both retro and futuristic (a rather common theme in AI projects these days).
Pum Lefebure, co-founder and chief creative officer at Design Army, said the initial impulse to use AI for the project was actually a practical one—the client wanted to promote a new store opening, but the timeline was exceedingly tight. Generative AI, known for the speed of its image making, seemed like the right path.
“It’s fast—allowing us to create a campaign in just one month, versus previous campaigns taking six-plus months for scouting, direction, shooting, editing, color-grading, music and beyond,” she said.
But it also just felt like a fun experiment, using this new tool to extend the universe of a client that’s long embraced design as a critical part of its brand.
“Since the brand is a science/fashion combo—medical eye opticians and stylish frames—the sci-fi concept made perfect sense,” Lefebure said. “With that vision, we invented a bizarro story about travelers visiting a planet to no man’s land.”
The planet features a collection of “Eyeliens” who must wear glasses to protect their eyes due to harsh environmental conditions. (All the characters have eye-related names.) The visuals and typography are inspired by 1950s movie posters and the early days of web 1.0. The trailer has 1960s sci-fi sound design and future-forward hues—including the currently trendy pastel fuchsia color. The result is “a totally weird, neon-cool, futuristic vibe,” Lefebure said.
Figuring out how a collaboration with AI would work is a new journey for Design Army. “As a team that’s been shooting real-life campaigns for over 15 years, we wanted to see if we could take our audience on an imaginary trip to a new far-off land—without our whole team visiting ‘Pink Mars,’” she said. “We wanted to see if these images can be as captivating and memorable as our work from previous campaigns.”
Lefebure said she finds AI both thrilling and frustrating.
“I love working with AI because of the speed,” she said. “Once you get the formula down, it’s like magic—it can surprise and inspire with new ideas you didn’t expect. But it’s still in its super early stages. Great work never lacks emotion. AI alone can feel soulless and stiff—it needs the human touch to give it feeling.”
She added: “While I love the speed, I hate AI’s stubbornness. At Design Army, our art direction is super tight. But working with AI, you must be willing to get lost in the journey to get the desired result. To really know how to create the prompts, be super specific, articulate exactly your vision to get the response you want. We experimented endlessly until it learned the art direction we liked.”
Lefebure sees AI as a “must-have new design tool” that will offer a creative advantage, but added: “I don’t think AI will ever place real humans—it’s just another tool to create and execute innovative campaigns.”
See a bunch of posters from the campaign below.
- Mar 31, 2023
- Client :
- Georgetown Optician
- Agency :
- Design Army
- Chief Creative Officer :
- Pum Lefebure
- Chief Executive Officer :
- Jake Lefebure
- Executive Creative Director :
- Sucha Becky
- Creative Director :
- Heloise Condroyer
- Copywriter :
- Cory Hansen
- Senior Designer/Animator :
- Jason Chae
- Designer & Animator :
- Yeri Choi
- Designer & Animator :
- Momo Jiang
- Social Media :
- Molly Stotts
- Sound Design :
- Squeak E. Clean Studios
- Sound Design :
- Simon Lister
- In Collaboration with AI :
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