CANNES, France—A celebrity android costs $100,000 to build, but it could literally be a moneymaking machine. That's why Dentsu, Japan's huge ad agency, is so interested in these robot doppelgangers.
Dentsu already owns one, based on Japan's popular cross-dressing TV host Matsuko Deluxe. The android version is called Matsuko-Roid, and it hosted a talk at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
Matsuko-Roid is a star in its own right, independent of the original Matsuko Deluxe. When the original can't make an appearance, the android stands in.
"They're not demanding, not busy, not expensive celebrities," said Dentsu creative director Yasuharu Sasaki, who appeared on stage with the android. He said one android costs about $100,000 to build.
Matsuko-Roid only has a head and arms that move while the body remains motionless, but it can proximate a TV host. The discussion focused not just on the future of personal robots, but the future of androids in advertising.
The creator of the android was Hiroshi Ishiguro, who also attended Cannes. He built an android version of himself that helps him double his speaking duties.
"This is very, very convenient," Ishiguro said. "I can give a talk in a foreign country by using this guy."
Ishiguro thinks the marketplace is on the brink of a personal robot revolution, and that they will be cheap and high performing. They can sell products in stores even better than humans because they never tell a lie, he said.
As for Dentsu, the technology opens up the possibility of celebrity robot endorsements. Sasaki joked that the firm could strike one deal with, say, Toyota for the original Matsuko and another with Honda for the robot version.
Imagine how much a Beyoncé-Roid could make.
Here's a look at clips from the talk: