The Rise of the Robot Pitchman

Visitors look at Fanuc Robotics Inc.'s M-6iB/6S Solution Arm at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo, Wednesday, November 30, 2005.

At one time it seemed like everywhere we looked we were seeing some animated baby mouth trying to sell us something. If it wasn’t a baby, it was an animal. We couldn’t trade stocks, buy insurance or sign-up for phone service without having some ridiculously cute, but somewhat creepy uber-intelligent and anthropomorphized being whispering tag lines into our brains.
Recently, it feels like the tide is starting to shift, and no, those babies are not growing up into spokestoddlers. The current must-have ad accessory is going a little more high-tech.
Enter the era of the robotic shill.

Robots are au courant. Robots are the future. But can robots make a brand Somewhere the robotic head of Philip K. Dick is smiling.
Companies from Cadillac to Maker's Mark are utilizing automatons to make us think that not only are they the brands of today, but instead are furtively grasping at the future. And to be clear, we are not talking about CGI hyper-real fiction droids like Svedka’s discontinued Fembot. These are real, bread and butter, build-me-a-Tesla-type robots. Ones that, if we are not careful, may evolve into Skynet.

Maker's Mark



Even the robotics companies themselves are getting into the action. Kuka Robot Group scored a huge viral win when a video of one of its robots playing ping pong against former number one world champion Timo Ball passed five million views and set the reddit technology threads ablaze.

Kuka vs Timo Ball

Similarly, iRobot is paying to show us that their robots are as welcome in the house as they are in the latest Homeland Security situation.
GE recently dusted off the robots of our nostalgic past to sell its path to future innovation.

And it is not just in advertising that we are seeing robots taking center stage. One of the most buzzed about short films of the last 12 months was Bot & Dolly’s BOX, which combines the hot technology of recent years, projection mapping, with a few well-choreographed articulated actors.

Seeing that the era of the automated may be upon us, perhaps the next time you are casting for your next 30-second masterpiece, you should avoid Hollywood and the New York runway scene and set your sights on the abandoned auto factories of Detroit instead, they work cheap.

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