Nestlé and Ogilvy Used A.I. to Expand Vermeer's 'The Milkmaid'

Artful effort promotes French yogurt brand La Laitière

An A.I. project from Nestlé reframes "The Milkmaid," a masterpiece created more than 360 years ago by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, in a fresh, expanded light. The work from Ogilvy Paris promotes La Laitière yogurt, which has long used milkmaid imagery in its campaigns.

For this effort, the team employed DALL-E 2's new "Outpainting" function to add significant details and new characters to the original oil-on-canvas image:

Now, instead of a maid toiling alone in a kitchen, the scene features more than a dozen enthralled onlookers, with the room's size increasing fivefold. Windows, ceiling beams, pots and pans and a grandfather clock appear, while a toddler peeks out from beneath a small table.

Here's the A.I. revise...

All those folks gawking, and no one helps the milkmaid with her chores. Typical.

This video breaks down the process, driven by text prompts instructing DALL-E 2 to extend "The Milkmaid" in Vermeer's signature style:

La Laitière de Nestlé X Ogilvy Paris X DALL.E 2

DALL-E 2's "Outpainting" debuted with an enhanced version of another Vermeer treasure, "Girl With a Pearl Earring," which served as an inspiration for Ogilvy ECD David Raichman and CD Julien Bredontiot. The pair crafted the Vermeer reboot by inputting more than 1,000 text prompts about the precise placement and physical aspect of figures and objects.

"The challenge was to choose among four propositions made by the A.I., to pick the best solution to continue the puzzle," Raichman recalls.

The results are impressive and intellectually intriguing, but would such stuff speak to consumers on behalf of a yogurt brand?

"Nowadays, Vermeer's 'Milkmaid' is under the spotlight with scientific discoveries," Bredontiot says. "They've found objects on the wall thanks to X-rays. In this trend was an opportunity to leverage science and to tell our own story to put Nestlé at the core of today's conversations."

The CDs believe image generators will play a heightened role in marketing for years to come. Of course, this trend is already well established. Brands such as Heinz have probed the boundaries of A.I. advertising, and an enterprising artist harnessed the technology to explore some deeper ramifications of our burgeoning human/tech interface.

"A.I. generated imagery is a revolution, and all the creative industry should embrace it," Raichman says. "It will probably have us rethinking lots of jobs, but in a good way. Illustrators will be able to sketch roughs more quickly. Photographers or art directors will create mood boards more easily. We see A.I. as an amplifier of creativity. It democratizes the process. We just need to keep in mind that it should be used in a meaningful way and ensure that there are still creative people directing the A.I., and not the other way around.


La Laitière
Marketing Director: Christophe de Poncins
Brand Manager: Julie Lerebours

Ogilvy Paris
Presidents: Matthieu Elkaim, Emmanuel Ferry
Creative Directors: David Raichman, Julien Bredontiot
Artistic Directors: Patricia Dupuy, Frederic Siebert
Artistic Director Assistant: DALL-E 2
Motion Designer: Baptiste Joubert
Head of Sound: Johanne Kenniche
Business Partner: Hubert d'Arrouzat
Account Manager: Manon Roux

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