When an A.I. Comes to Dinner: Inside Rag & Bone's Latest Wild Marketing Idea

SpecialGuest blends tech, fashion, food and music

Artificial intelligence is great and all, but is it a good dinner companion? 

Rag & Bone, the fashion brand, recently introduced an A.I. to the very human art of sharing a meal as part of an exclusive experiential stunt for its Fall 2019 collection. Working with agency SpecialGuest, it gathered friends of the brand together for "The Last Supper," a multi-sensory dinner experience at which one of the guests was an A.I. created by artist and creative technologist Ross Goodwin and voiced (using pre-recorded snippets) by Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke. 

The 50 guests (which included A-listers like Paul Thomas Anderson, Justin Theroux, Mimi O'Donnell, Lakeith Stanfield, Keri Russell and Mikhail Baryshnikov—who starred with Lil Buck in a remarkable Rag & Bone short film four years ago) wore Rag & Bone's Fall 2019 clothes to the event. The A.I., which was outfitted with depth cameras, captured point cloud data of the diners throughout the evening—a visual representation of how the A.I. sees the world. This content was incorporated into futuristic video-scapes in real time by audio-visual composer Tarik Barri.

At the end of the evening, the A.I. took Barri's work and self-edited it down to an eight-minute video—set to a new remix of an old Yorke track—that "highlights the Rag & Bone collection in a completely novel way and fuses our human point of view with that of the A.I.'s computer vision," according to the brand. 

See the video here: 

It's obviously more of an art piece than a tech innovation, even if the computer was intended to "learn and evolve through the actions of the guests" during the course of the evening. Still, it's a welcome bit of tech-inspired playfulness from a brand and agency that have both been doing compelling marketing for years. (Check out last year's short film "Why Can't We Get Along," also created by Aaron Duffy and SpecialGuest, starring Kate Mara and Ansel Elgort.) 

The experience went well beyond the A.I. component. The event included music (curated by Nigel Godrich), an eclectic cast of performers (directed by Christine Jones and choreographed by Damien Jalet) and a menu by Ignacio Mattos.

"The activation explores how we will experience and celebrate fashion in the future as we embrace an exponentially growing machine intelligence," Rag & Bone says. "In a version of 'A Last Supper' before the singularity, when machines will exceed our ability, the brand presents a beautiful and twisted vision of how we will maintain our humanity." 

See other photos from the event below, taken by Ulrich Knoblauch. 

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards.