Fans call on Ryan Reynolds to ‘sue’ after deepfake Tesla ad uses AI-generated version of him

A fan created an AI-generated ad for Tesla using Ryan Reynolds’ voice

Meredith Clark
New York
Friday 19 May 2023 20:04 BST
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People have called on Ryan Reynolds to take legal action after his likeness was used in an AI-generated commercial for Tesla.

This week, financial advisor and YouTuber Kevin Paffrath – known as “Meet Kevin” – went viral on Twitter when he shared a fan-made ad for Tesla using deepfake artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Deepfakes are videos and images that have been digitally created or altered using AI imaging.

Paffrath posted the video, which he claimed to be a new ad, featuring Ryan Reynolds promoting Elon Musk’s electric vehicles. In the AI-generated voice-over, the Deadpool star appears to be speaking about the car’s self-driving improvements and cost benefits.

“Hey, it’s Ryan Reynolds,” begins the ad, as an animated image of the actor shows on-screen. “How much do you think it would cost to own a car that’s this f***ing awesome?” he says, alongside real interior footage of a self-driving car.

“Introducing, @Tesla’s first ad, featuring @VancityReynolds,” Paffrath captioned the clip, before clarifying that he had created the commercial using AI technology. “Disclaimer: We made this partly with deep-fake AI. @VancityReynolds wasn’t actually a part of this, though we think he’d make a phenomenal brand partner for @elonmusk and @Tesla. Happy to fly to Tesla HQ and share more ideas for free anytime.”

The fan-made video comes after Elon Musk reportedly said in a recent Tesla stakeholder meeting that the brand will look towards traditional media advertising — a stark move from Tesla’s history of not paying for endorsements.

Musk even gave the fake commercial his seal of approval when he replied to Paffrath’s video: “Nice.”

As the deepfake Tesla ad circulated throughout Twitter with more than six million views, many fans sounded off on the ethics of using Reynolds’ likeness to promote a product – seemingly without his consent.

“Sue him, Ryan,” said one person.

“I hope Ryan Reynolds sues,” another tweeted.

A third user wrote, “Really hoping this becomes illegal super quick,” as some people claimed the AI-generated ad was “false endorsement” – when a person’s identity is connected with a product or service in such a way that consumers are likely to be misled about that person’s sponsorship or approval of the product or service

“I’m not even a lawyer, and I could win the case against this for Ryan Reynolds,” another person said.

However, it appears Ryan Reynolds is having the last laugh.

On 18 May, digital marketing agency Maximum Effort, which was co-founded by the actor, responded to the fake Tesla ad with their own deepfake video of Elon Musk promoting Reynold’s liquor brand, Aviation Gin. “Two can court disaster with this game!” they captioned the clip.

Ryan Reynolds simply wrote back, “Nice.”

The Independent has contacted Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Paffrath, and Tesla for comment.

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