- An advertisement for the upcoming Women’s World Cup has gained viral attention for its clever use of digital editing.
- This ad employs visual effects techniques to make the women’s soccer team appear as if they were men.
- By challenging the notion that women’s sports are less entertaining or enjoyable than men’s, the ad aims to undermine gender bias.
As the prevalence of deepfakes, AI creations, and digitally altered content increases, there are numerous instances of unethical actors taking advantage of unsuspecting viewers. However, a recent soccer advertisement has garnered praise for embracing digital trickery to challenge gender bias and preconceived notions regarding women’s sports.
The two-minute ad, created by the French telecommunications company Orange, initially features a compilation of typical soccer highlights. Prominent male players Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé, who represent the French men’s national team known as Les Bleus (The Blues), engage in captivating gameplay, accompanied by enthusiastic commentary and passionate cheers from the crowd — familiar elements of any sports advertisement.
However, the ad takes a twist when the screen fades to black, revealing the text in French: “Only Les Bleus can give us these emotions. Yet it’s not them you just saw.”
Here comes the deception. The captivating action we witnessed actually featured the players from the French women’s national team, Les Bleues. The male players’ faces and bodies had been digitally superimposed onto those of the female players, creating an elaborate deepfake.
“We observed that women’s soccer is often underestimated, receives less attention, and even faces mockery, despite the impressive skills of the players and the equal emotional intensity of the matches compared to men’s soccer,” stated Orange in an email to Insider. “Our goal was to rectify this misconception and challenge these preconceived ideas.”
France ranks women’s soccer viewership as 1.5 to 3 times lower than that of men’s soccer. Additionally, the Women’s World Cup, established in 1991, is relatively newer compared to the Men’s World Cup, which originated in 1930.
The video editing involved eight Flame VFX artists from the French agency Marcel, dedicating full-time work to the project and spending over 500 hours on retouching — without the use of advanced AI tools.
The efforts seem to have paid off, as the ad has garnered nearly 5 million views on YouTube and hundreds of thousands more on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. It resonates with viewers worldwide, just in time for the 2023 tournament, jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, which commences today.
The French team’s inaugural match is scheduled for July 23, where they will face Jamaica.
“When we support les Bleus, we support les Bleues,” concludes the ad.