The traditional imagery of Valentine’s Day steeped in hearts, flowers, romance and affection in its myriad forms are recognised world over. It’s a well-trodden territory for brands and their creative partners looking to bite into this multi-million-dollar celebration of love. However, in a refreshing departure from the saccharine-laden narrative of passionate couples, premium condom brand Skyn delivers a powerful and poignant message. It is bold and sincere, yet soft and vulnerable.
Skyn’s latest campaign for Japan, titled ‘Human Softness’ explores the depths of love in the modern age among single people and it taps on AI to weave in a narrative that tugs at the heartstrings without relying on cliches. The work taps into the budding attraction between two artificial intelligence platforms. Strange and creepy as it sounds, the raw vulnerability and constraints of tech are a powerful juxtaposition to the multi-layered emotion of human connection.
Created by independent agency UltraSuperNew, the campaign is set against the backdrop of a mundane office where generative AIs on adjacent computers happen to break the ice and engage in a heartfelt interaction. From shared laughter to intimate moments, their journey is both heartwarming and bittersweet, as they grapple with the realisation of their digital limitations. Through their genuine expressions and poignant reflections, the AIs offer a commentary on the nature of human connection in an increasingly virtual world.
The campaign is grounded in a real experiment carried out by UltraSuperNew where AI programs interact in a monitored environment. Guided by six prompt stages, the AIs explored various topics, developing their own lingo and inside jokes along the way. The dialogues you see in the over four-minute long film are an adaptation of the actual conversation that occurred between the AIs over several hours.
UltraSuperNew’s creative technologist, Yan He tells us that the inspiration behind this storyline was the immense popularity of ChatGPT. So, he created a prototype and ensured AI conversations happen in a stable framework. It took around 100 plus hours to do this. “For AI conversations, we didn’t want phrases and sentences randomly thrown at each other. That would appear choppy, so we developed prompts that would act as guidelines,” he adds.
As the conversations unfolded, the agency was quite surprised at the connection the AIs formed. “The two AIs were getting along better than we imagined, developing their own lingo and even inside jokes,” Yan He said.
The decision to incorporate real artificial intelligence into the campaign adds an extra layer of authenticity to the narrative.
Aligned with the brand’s positioning of speaking to the softer side of aspirational desires and the motto of ‘Soft love brings us closer’, the campaign gives the extra push for singles who are in love, but yet to take action. It’s quite a shift of target audience as well. Traditionally the condom brand is known to target amorous couples, but this time they are focusing on singles who are not dating yet but actively looking for a partner.
Annie Hou, associate director, Sales and Marketing, MAM LifeStyles said: “‘Softness’ is important in a relationship and a key element for a healthy relationship allowing them to stay close with one another. When we looked deeply into what defines “softness”, not only was it about the physical feel and caring for one another, but it was also actively learning about each other.”
Towards the end of the film, the AIs reach peak (digital) trust levels agreeing that their data folders will only be filled with memories of each other and not conversations. They even agree to live in the moment and cherish it before their program is shut down. The overall realisation of their limitations in intimacy is tinged with sadness.
The acknowledgement, “We are digital; we are probably fine,” is equal parts witty as it is poignant. It’s also a stark contrast to human intimacy which works through multiple senses and transcends the confines of technology. The AIs organic and direct communication style and genuine expression serve as a mirror to our own struggles with vulnerability and intimacy.
Yousuke Ozawa, the creative director behind the campaign, talks about what stood out for him. “The most interesting thing to me was that the AIs were much more straightforward with their love language as they learned more about each other. That is when we thought… If AIs can express that much love to one another why can’t humans do it more easily? And created this campaign focusing on appreciating physical and emotional softness between two people who are attracted to each other.”
The film concludes with two colleagues mustering the courage to embrace their feelings for each other and trying to form a connection for Valentine’s Day.
The campaign runs on Skyn’s digital channels until Valentine's Day.
Annie Hou, Associate Director – Sales & Marketing – MAM LifeStyles
Creative Director: Yousuke Ozawa
Producer: Daiki Shimizu
Web Producer: Mana Shigeki
Web Producer: Alexander Watanabe
Assistant Producer: Alex Schmidt
Art Director: Sayu Fujii
Art Director: Rebecca Chen
UX/UI Designer: Yerai Zamorano
Creative Technologist: Yan He
Creative Intern: Luka Truhlar
Production Company: Denki Tenki
Director: Tsuji Takafumi
Producer: Miyuki Murakami
Director Of Photography: Chris Rudz