April 20, 2024

World Cup Viral Ad Uses Deceptive Editing in All the Right Ways

  • France’s ad for the upcoming Women’s World Cup recently went viral for its sophisticated use of digital editing.
  • The ad uses VFX techniques to make the female cast look male.
  • The tactic undermines the belief that women’s sports are not as entertaining or fun to watch as men’s sports.

As AI creations and digitally manipulated content become increasingly difficult to identify, there are plenty of examples of bad actors taking advantage of an unsuspecting audience. But a new soccer ad that leans into the digital world has won praise for using technology in a way that encourages viewers to confront gender bias and preconceived notions about women’s sports.

The two-minute ad, launched by French telecommunications company Orange, begins with a typical collection of soccer highlights. The stars Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappewho plays for French men national teamLes Bleus (The Blues), in a dramatic montage of dribbling, passing, and scoring against a background of passionate commentary and enthusiastic cheers from the crowd – the usual stuff of any sports advert.

Then the screen cuts to black, with text reading in French: “Only Les Bleus can give us these feelings. But they’re not what you just saw.”

Then comes the twist. All the action we saw came from the women’s national team, Les Bleues. The real footage is revealed, showing Sakina Karchaoui, Selma Bacha, Amandine Henry, and other prominent players of the French women’s team. The faces and bodies of the male players were superimposed on the faces and bodies of the female players in an elaborate deep fade.

Clip from the video.  On the left is the original film.  On the right is a deep fake.

Clip from the video. On the left is the original film. On the right is the edited result that the viewer sees first.

Orange France



“We noticed that women’s soccer is underestimated, followed less and even mocked even though the skills of the players are very impressive, and that games can draw as much emotion as men,” Orange told Insider in an email. “We wanted to set the truth straight and change these ideas.”

Orange estimates that the women’s soccer audience in France is between 1.5 and 3 times lower than it is for men. The Women’s World Cup was also not around that long: the Men’s World Cup was established in 1930, and the Women’s Cup was established in 1991.

The project had 8 Flame VFX artists from French agency Marcel working full time on the project and over 500 hours of retouching – the editing for the video itself involved no fancy AI tools.

Looks like the work paid off. The ad has nearly 5 million views on YouTube, and hundreds of thousands more on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, delighting audiences around the world by 2023 tourwhich began on 20 July, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

The French team is scheduled for their first match on July 23, against Jamaica.

“When we support les Bleus, we support les Bleues,” read the final words of the ad.

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