It’s not every day a supermarket chain promotes its wares with a dystopian sci-fi flick about a world overrun by artificial intelligence. But a new four-minute ad from German brand Edeka (and agency Jung von Matt) does just that, to powerful effect.
The camera opens on the blasted, desolate ruins of a futuristic city. There are no humans to be seen, but groups of humanoid machines hum around, completing their routines. Except for one bright-eyed robot, who can’t help but break away.
First, it sees a poster for a movie about a happy family celebrating Christmas. In a blink, it’s snuck off from its compatriots and into the theater, where it finds an old newspaper depicting the flight of people from the new robot overlords, as well as the film.
It watches the movie, ogling at a cozy dinner scene. Inspired, it takes off to try and recreate the scene with old mannequins—dodging a sinister robot supervisor along the way. But naturally, the plastic fashion dolls make for poor company.
Remembering the newspaper, it recognizes the mountains in the background of the photo, and heads off to find the humans. Whirring down gravel roads and wobbling over rocky streams, it eventually finds its way to a log cabin in the snowy woods. Against all odds, the family welcomes it in. The father tells stories about a bear while they pass around plates full of steak and carrots, and the young daughter puts a golden heart magnet on the newest metallic member of the clan.
“Without love, it’s just a feast,” reads the tagline.
It’s a beautiful little story, well told, even if it can’t but evoke 2008’s Wall-E. And there are some question marks. (Where do they get all that wonderful food in the wilderness? Did they bring the wine glasses with them from city? Why don’t they brain the bot with a bat as soon as they open the door?)
But the glitches are easily explained away. Sure, it’s overly sentimental, in keeping with the genre, and not all bots are evil, and in the end it’s really a story about understanding and generosity.
As random as the theme might seem for the brand, like all good sci-fi it reflects real contemporary anxieties—about the rapid rise of technology and the dehumanization it might foster. That makes it an especially potent vehicle for an ad about togetherness. The robot hero itself seems human, because it’s capable of what no machine can mimic.
All other praise aside, at least nobody fakes their own death in this one.