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Digital Transformation Artificial Intelligence TikTok

TikTok debuts humanlike AI-generated avatars & language dubbing for brands & creators


By Kendra Barnett, Associate Editor

June 17, 2024 | 8 min read

The video-sharing app, which is embroiled in a legal battle with the US government over its right to operate in the US, is forging further into AI advertising, undeterred.

Girl filming herself on phone

TikTok is rolling out AI-generated digital avatars and AI-powered language dubbing for marketers and creators / Liza Summer

TikTok, the video-sharing platform with over a billion monthly active users, today unveiled new AI-powered tools for advertisers, including digital avatars and dubbing capabilities designed to translate branded messages into different languages across the globe. The announcement was made at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

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“Creativity is the core of TikTok. When brands truly lean into creativity that reflect the culture of TikTok, they are able to connect with their community and drive real results,” said Adrienne Lahens, global head of content strategy and operations at TikTok.

The new features are part of Symphony, a suite of generative AI offerings for advertisers that TikTok launched in May. Symphony includes a variety of tools to help streamline the creative development and content production processes for creators and marketers.

Brands and creators will now be able to use prefabricated stock avatars in their content. The avatars largely look and move like real people and are designed to reflect a wide range of nationalities and languages.

Stock avatars

Symphony users can also create their own custom versions, tailoring an avatar to their own likeness or intellectual property or developing a multilingual character however they like to share content in local languages across the globe.

Meanwhile, the new dubbing feature in Symphony will enable users to translate their own content into more than 10 languages, with the aim of helping creators and brands expand their reach and build a more global audience. Using AI, the tool seamlessly identifies the language spoken in a video, transcribes the dialogue, translates and then spits out a dubbed version in the selected languages.

As part of TikTok’s efforts to further support brands and creators with generative AI tools, the platform is also launching an advisory group. The new Symphony Collective: Industry Advisory Board brings together creators and marketers from across the brand and agency worlds to provide ongoing feedback.

“At TikTok, we are building for the future of creative and are inviting brands to come test and learn with us as we look to simplify and unlock a whole new paradigm of creation,” said Lahens.

Founding members of the collective include representatives from top brands including Wendy’s, Mondelez and the NBA, as well as agency leaders from OMD, TBWA\Chiat\Day, Tinuiti and more.

“TikTok has been a remarkable force for more open, diverse and bold forms of creativity,” said Anthony Hamelle, executive director of digital, social and innovation at TBWA\Chiat\Day US, in a statement. “With GenAI as a creative catalyst, this stage that welcomes thousands of creators and communities will become even more dynamic.”

Hamelle explained that the agency, which counts Discover, Jack in the Box, Levi’s and DirecTV among its clients, will share learnings from its own work, including TikTok content it develops for Hilton.

A select number of top creators are also involved in the Collective; among them are Drea Okeke, David Ma, Michelle Gonzales and O’Neil Thomas. They will experiment with TikTok’s AI tools in their own content and share feedback with the organization.

Drea Okeke, known for her content on Nigerian culture and food and her role on Fuse’s We Need to Talk About America, a comedic series on all things pop culture and the internet, said that she’s looking forward to participating – and getting more out of her own content in the process.

“As a creator, my goal has always been to bring joy and share my culture with the world,” she says. “TikTok has been a game-changer, allowing me to connect and build an online community in ways I never thought possible. I love using AI to streamline my creative process and boost productivity, so I’m especially excited to join the TikTok Symphony Collective Advisory Board. I’m looking forward to seeing the creative ways that AI can help us creators be even more innovative and grow.”

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Filmmaker David Ma, meanwhile, plans to tap into TikTok’s new Symphony AI tools to enhance the commercial work he does for brands like Twix and Truff. “As a creator, I’m always experimenting with new filmmaking techniques for my craft and content. I’m constantly exploring new ways to scale my content without sacrificing my creativity,” he explained. “TikTok has been a pioneer in providing creative tools that allow me to effectively collaborate with brands and create lasting, long-term brand relationships.” He’s excited to participate in the Symphony Collective, he said, “to help myself and other creators find efficiency in our creative processes while maintaining our artistic voices.”

The news comes less than two months after President Biden greenlit a law that will require TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to divest TikTok’s US operations within a year or face a nationwide ban. TikTok is suing the US government over the decision, alleging that the law violates the First Amendment rights of the millions of Americans who use the app.

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