June 20, 2023
French beauty brand Guerlain’s latest campaign lifts the opportunities that lie ahead for luxury-minded marketers, striking the right balance between human teams and new technologies.
Comprised of more than 1,800 reimagined Bee Bottles, the brand's latest effort honors the enduring motif's 170th anniversary, culminating in a film generated by artificial intelligence (AI). The resulting digital retrospective exhibition offers a best-in-class example for industry agents looking to engage with future-forward tools ethically and authentically.
Led by the expertise of multiple internal teams, Guerlain delivers “Born In 1853. Made For The Future,” a video featuring AI-generated snippets of the house’s heritage.
Leaders constructed the short film in phases — archivists and artistic directors up first, pulling key milestones in the maison’s history and pairing these moments with periodic visuals which served as reference points for the project.
Tracking the Bee Bottle “through the ages,” from 1853 to 2193, experts tapped the aesthetics of Solar Punk and similar movements as sources of inspiration for designs of the future.
From 1853 to 2193. Powered by artificial intelligence, Guerlain envisions an exquisitely utopian future for the Bee Bottle. A promise of another 170 years of beautiful, inspiring history.
— Guerlain (@Guerlain) June 16, 2023
These selections would eventually feed a custom AI model. Developed by a group of creative technologists, the complex system was thoroughly trained to recognize the Bee Bottle from all angles, in order to accurately recreate the vessel.
Driving this production process with written requests containing instructions for composition, lights, colors, visual techniques and more, prompt engineers set the company’s new invention into motion with text descriptors that allowed the AI model to produce the imagery shown in Guerlain’s film.
Three principles guided Guerlain’s embrace of AI.
170 years of exceptional history. 170 years of luxury for the future.
Discover a unique artistic journey powered by human-led artificial intelligence, celebrating the anniversary of the legendary Bee Bottle, through past, present and future.
Begin the journey:… pic.twitter.com/jLcXGhvP2c
— Guerlain (@Guerlain) June 14, 2023
“We like to believe that AI and human sensitivity can work together as creative allies rather than competitors,” reads a brand statement.
“For this purpose, three principles were established to guide the collaboration between humans and artificial intelligence,” it says. “Artificial intelligence is not used to replace humans: human sensitivity is involved at every stage of the creative process.
“Together, humans and artificial intelligence elevate the creative gesture to create a work that they would be incapable of generating alone.”
Rather than omit human intervention entirely, Guerlain opts for an approach grounded in curation, embellishing its movie’s creative impact using AI.
For now, the machine’s output is overseen by its architects. Supervision could prove crucial for campaigns of this nature, which are growing in popularity (see story).
From the splendour of the Second Empire to the bold colours of the Impressionists, from the Art Nouveau era to the new avant-garde, the Bee Bottle defies all limitations.
Through the power of artificial intelligence, rediscover the iconic Bee Bottle during the most memorable… pic.twitter.com/OZW8ACUON7
— Guerlain (@Guerlain) June 13, 2023
Evidenced by the imperfections that play a role in Guerlain’s work — the fragrance magnate expressed a desire to keep oddities off the cutting room table, a move that seeks to preserve “the marks of this unique creative journey” — these systems are not yet evolved enough to operate in a silo, as thought leaders have outlined in reflections on potential marketing uses (see story).
Thus, while the model’s endless content supply can help to color in between the lines, artistic interventions of the human variety are ultimately necessary to ensure accuracy, with the collaborative spirit of the branded exercise providing a sound example of the concept.