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Brett Elmore
Brett Elmore
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“Here’s looking at you, Kit Kat”: Company’s tech lets it slip ads into classic TV shows and films


While celebrities now must protect their digital likenesses against those who may use them to plug a product or make it seem they’ve done something untoward, a U.K. company now has the power to insert products into classic movies and TV shows. 

Mirriad says their “computer vision and AI-powered platform company” can subtly change, or even add, product signage to virtually any scene, making billboards appear as if they’ve always been there, or, say, switching a TV family’s allegiance from Pepsi to Coke.

So in theory, not only could they make Humphrey Bogart‘s character Rick sip Dom Perignon in the 1942 classic Casablanca, but unfamiliar viewers would be hard-pressed to realize the product wasn’t there in the first place.

According to a BBC interview with Mirriad’s chief executive, Stephan Beringer, the makers of ABC’s hit Modern Family even “tried out” the tech. He explains it’s just another application of digital special effects.

“We started out working in movies. Our chief scientist Philip McLauchlan, with his team, came up with the technology that won an Academy Award for the film Black Swan,” Beringer notes. “The technology can ‘read’ an image, it understands the depth, the motion, the fabric, anything. So you can introduce new images that basically the human eye does not realize has been done after the fact, after the production.”

The applications could also help music acts pull new advertising dollars from older performances — something very appealing since COVID-19 has stalled live concerts.

Beringer says the next step is algorithm-based targeted ads based on viewer preferences, the way Facebook and other social media does. So your favorite action hero could suddenly seem to favor your brand of beer or like your favorite sports team, based on elements added after the fact.

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