Baby Dove’s controversial campaign creates the “Perfect Mum” using Artificial Intelligence
Is there a perfect mum? In a recent survey for Baby Dove, 9 out of 10 first-time mums said that they feel pressure to be perfect due to the images they see every day on social media and in magazines, that they feel uncertain about their own abilities, because the media can make parenting look easy and as if it comes naturally to everyone. In response to this survey, Baby Dove decided to take a step further with their new campaign, ‘Perfect Mum’.
To launch the campaign, agency MHP asked Happy Finish to use Artificial Intelligence to create an image of a ‘perfect mum’, an amalgamation of unrealistic depictions of motherhood in the media and on social networks.
So, how did we use Artificial Intelligence to create this image? We used pioneering Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN), a complex technique used by other companies such as Google and DeepMind. The system, produced in house at Happy Finish, is comprised of two neural networks, one generative and one discriminative. With these too opposite networks, the machine is able to gather and learn from all relevant data it receives in order to produce an increasingly accurate sample of photorealistic images, resulting in a high quality final picture of a face.
Over 1,800 pictures were collected from UK women’s lifestyle and parenting magazines from the past 12 months and from social media using #newmum #firsttimemum #mumtobe and #pregnant to create a dataset to train the AI on what a ‘perfect mum’ looks like. The AI was then able to identify and learn about visual features within the dataset, to generate unique and new faces at every stage of the process until it ultimately came up with the final image of “Aimee” – the Perfect Mum as imagined by a computer, trained entirely by media representations of motherhood. The final step of the process involved some retouching to clean up the image, giving Aimee her hair and composing her face on the body holding the baby, making her ready for her debut at London Waterloo.
One of the earlier loops produced by the AI as it was trained to create faces
Marco Marchesi, Technical Lead at Happy Finish said: “This was a real challenge and a first. At 1 megapixel the Perfect Mum is the most sophisticated image that we know of produced using this AI technique, whereas current research has been working to image production of just 256 pixels.
“The learning process took a total of five weeks and a series of loops of output, each getting closer in appearance to a woman’s face, before the computer generated the result, Aimee the Perfect Mum”.
The final image was unveiled at Waterloo Station on April 3rd, sparking huge online debate and criticism about the “pressurising” image used. The next day, Baby Dove revealed the truth about Aimee in the press – that she isn’t real, and neither is this notion of “perfection” in motherhood.