OpenAI’s Sora reimagines the Toys ‘R’ Us lore as it premiers at Cannes Lions

One iconic American toy retailer claims to be the first brand to craft its promotional film using OpenAI’s Sora.

Toys ‘R’ Us, the American toy, clothing, and baby product retailer, has reimagined the story of its conception using OpenAI’s advanced artificial intelligence (AI) model, Sora.

Sora is an AI model that transforms natural language prompts into 60-second high-fidelity videos.

The promo video, reportedly shown at the 2024 Cannes Lions Festival, features an AI-generated Charles Lazarus, the founder of Toys ‘R’ Us, as a young boy discovering the company's magic.

The toy company partnered with Native Foreign, who, according to CNN, had early access to Sora as the AI model isn’t publicly available.

“We are thrilled to partner with Native Foreign to push the boundaries of Sora, a groundbreaking new technology from OpenAI that's gaining global attention,” Toys ‘R’ Us said.

The company called attention to the AI model’s capabilities, stating that it can “create up to one-minute-long videos featuring realistic scenes and multiple characters, all generated from text instruction.”

The video, almost entirely created using OpenAI’s Sora, depicts a quaint little 1930’s American town. Within the town is a bicycle shop where, we assume, Charles Lazarus’ father works.

During the clip, we see a sweet little freckled-faced Charles playing with a toy giraffe. The toy then magically comes to life and transforms into the iconic Toys ‘R’ Us mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe.

The young Charles falls asleep in the workshop and wakes to an enchanted universe filled with toys. He is greeted by a newly animated Geoffrey, and the iconic Toys ‘R’ Us logo flashes on the screen.

While Sora still requires some fine-tuning when it comes to realism, the characters within the promo video are hauntingly accurate, rather reminiscent of the uncanny valley.

As we’ve seen with Stable Diffusions' new AI model, Stable Diffusion 3 Medium, AI often struggles to correct human anatomy, leaving users with images of dismembered figures or “people” with an odd number of fingers.

However, we can see just by watching Sora’s creation that this isn’t happening here, as it creates pretty realistic characters. Yes, the boy might be a bit creepy-looking, but at least he’s anatomically correct.

Now that big brands like Toys ‘R’ Us are utilizing OpenAI’s tools, it can only be assumed that many other companies will follow suit.

However, the response on social media has been rather conflicting. Some people say that AI threatens commercial art, while others claim that, whether we like it or not, this is the future of advertising.

Furthermore, the company has been criticized online for not having the budget to create a “real” short film. Which could be a jab at the company’s financial situation.

In 2017, Toys ‘R’ Us filed for bankruptcy and subsequently closed its UK, US, and Australian stores in 2018. The toy retailer filed for bankruptcy for various reasons. Some people allege that the company had a large amount of debt, lacked innovation, and could not keep up with retail giants like Walmart and Amazon.

However, some theorize that changing consumer habits impacted Toys ‘R’ Us’ survival. Kids aren’t playing with analog toys so much anymore. Instead, they want to interact with digital devices.

Therefore, Toys ‘R’ Us may have just made a strategic move by demonstrating its commitment to innovation and entering the digital sphere as it begins reopening stores in the US and UK.