Perplexity Breaks First TV Spot, Considers Making It A Movie

Perplexity, an AI-powered search engine that calls itself an "answer engine," debuted its first television spot Thursday night during the NBA Finals, Game One, on ABC.

The spot created in partnership with the indie agency Sandwich as a fake movie trailer called “Know-It-All" tells the story about a lovable and humorous band of outsiders who team up to build a new electrical power source. It’s an action adventure with some slapstick using innovative technologies.

“There are very few moments where the country comes together, such as during the Super Bowl, March Madness, or something similar with live sports,” Dmitry Shevelenko, chief business officer at Perplexity, said when asked why the company chose television to run its first ad. “In-streaming works, but you don’t really have the collective dynamic.”



Perplexity--a startup that rivals AI engines from Google, Microsoft, OpenAI and others--simply wanted to create an ad that people would connect with through storytelling. Curiosity and innovation are key elements of Perplexity’s AI “answer" engine. Running the ad during a sporting event became a key way to make a lasting impression with an audience. 

"We are okay with a scenario where the ad doesn’t land," he said. "We are even okay with failure, but we are not okay with modest success.”

The ad also will run across digital streaming like Hulu, Disney+ and YouTube.

The television spot – initially meant to run solely as an advertisement – turned into a movie trailer after executives at several studios got an early look, loved the concept, and began bidding to license the rights to turn the content into a full-length feature. 

It’s just the start of the brand campaign with more to come. The content was shot in two days with a very small budget, said Dmitry Shevelenko, chief business officer at Perplexity.

“We expect to work with Sandwich to come up with another completely different concept for a movie,” he said. “First, we will create a trailer for it, have product placement for Perplexity, and run that as a campaign, too. There will be a whole series. We are excited about this type of storytelling.”

Shevelenko briefly spoke about the delivery of ads in Perplexity’s products. He reiterated the company’s principals – do not serve the ads before the answer to the query, and do not let advertisers pay to bias an answer based on the ad partners.

The plan is to roll out sponsored questions in the second half of 2024. The sponsored ad, which the company will offer on a bid basis, will serve up as one of the three related questions beneath the query.

Today that space serves up three related questions. One of the three will become sponsored.

Next story loading loading..