Shopping for a Voice Assistant Becomes a Nightmare Hellscape in This Ad for ‘the Good Robot’

Wieden + Kennedy goes full Black Mirror for the charming Vector

Probably not the one you want to buy. Anki
Headshot of David Griner

Digital home assistants come in all sorts of shapes and formats these days, from sleek and compact to maniacal and murderous. OK, not really—or maybe not yet—but one robotics company does worry that the industry is too focused on what technology can do versus what it should do.

In “The Decision,” a spot from Wieden + Kennedy Portland for robotics company Anki, we see a curious shopper named Ethan looking at his options for a digital home buddy. First he looks at Vector, the tiny, sweet-tempered robot created by Anki. It seems like a charming fit, taking pictures of his baby, giving him vague advice about the weather and generally bleep-blooping its way into Ethan’s heart.

But just as Gremlins first introduced us to an adorable Mogwai before all hell broke loose, this spot soon takes a turn when Ethan looks at his other options, including the Alexa-esque Kona, a flying drone with arms, a mechanical dog and an ominous HomeBot.

In contrast to Vector, these options leave Ethan more than a little anxious about what he might be bringing into his home.

Referencing everything from Black Mirror (Season 4’s “Metalhead” episode presents an apocalypse brought about by robot dogs) to 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL, the ad packs quite a few nightmare scenarios into one clip—which is especially surprising, given that it’s trying to sell you on a home robot.

In fact, the company’s statement announcing the video pulls no punches when it comes to acknowledging that pop culture has trained us to equate robots with our own existential doom.

“It’s an unfortunate but widely accepted fact that, left unchecked, robots will eventually rise up, overtake humanity, and destroy all biological life on Earth,” the release says. “That’s the bad news. The good news is that humans don’t have to become robot fuel. There is a better, less robot apocalypse–filled future that is now possible thanks to Vector, the Good Robot.”

On Anki’s website for Vector, the headline reads: “Smart enough to take over the world. Nice enough not to.”

In addition to the video, Anki will be taking its campaign to the streets, driving a mobile billboard around competing robotics companies and asking them to think about the potential negative repercussions of the technology they’re creating.

CREDITS:

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland
Executive Creative Directors Jason Bagley + Eric Baldwin
Creative Directors Stuart Brown + Brandon Davis + Dan Viens
Copywriter Jonathan Marshall
Art Director Helen Rhodes
Director of Production Mike Davidson + Matt Hunnicutt
Executive Producer N/A
Producer(s) Chris Capretto + Bob Guerrero
Associate Producer N/A
Art Producer N/A
Strategic Planning Angela Jones + John Dempsey
Media/Comms Planning Lisa Johnson + Jonathan Thomas
Brand Director Danny Sullivan
Brand Manager Heather Morba
Creative Operations Manager Lindsey Reightley

PRODUCTION
Production Company Somesuch
Director Nick Gordon
Executive Producer Nicky Barnes
Line Producer Saul Germaine
Director of Photography Christopher Blauvelt

EDITORIAL
Editorial Company Joint Editorial
Editor Steve Sprinkel + Eric Hill

Assistant Editor Kristy Faris
Post Producer Jen Milano + Chris Gerard
Post Executive Producer Leslie Carthy

VFX
VFX Company The Mill
VFX Lead Jason Bergman + John Shirley
Flame Artist
Flame Assist
VFX Producer Erin Hicke
VFX Executive Producer Anastasia von Rahl + Enca Kaul
Titles/Graphics

MUSIC

Music+Sound Company Soundtree
Composer Mitchell Tanner
Head of Music Production Luis Almau
Managing Director Jay James

SOUND DESIGN
Sound Company Soundtree
Sound Designer Henning Knoepfel
Ast Sound Designer N/A
Executive Producer N/A

MIX
Mix Company Lime
Mixer Mark Meyuhas
Mixer
Asst Mixer
Producer Susie Boyajan

DESIGN
Design Ken Berg
Photography N/A
Photography N/A
Retouching Frazer Goodbody
Print Producer Ellen Osborne
Design Operations Patrick Cahalan


@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
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