Hotel Chocolat and Gravity Road Mix Up a World of Happiness with GenAI

Hotel Chocolat

Velvetise into Happiness


2023 was in many ways the year of exploration for generative AI – from ChatGPT quickly surpassing 100 million monthly active users to AI’s viral Lego x Hermès collaboration to selecting its Word of the Year (hallucinate) because of AI’s tendency to produce false information.  

AI also presented many questions within the marketing industry, like ‘What impact will this technology have on ad agencies?’, ‘What are AI’s biggest risks and limitations?’ and ‘How can brands best use AI in their marketing?’  

While some of the answers to AI’s biggest questions still hang in the balance, brands and agencies are exploring ways to use GenAI in their work. This includes Hotel Chocolat and agency Gravity Road, who secure the first UK Ad Of The Week of 2024 and the maximum Star Rating in System1’s Test Your Ad platform.  

The 30-second spot for the Velvetiser, an at-home barista grade drinking chocolate system, takes the audience on a whimsical journey into the colourful depths of the appliance, complete with a groovy soundtrack, swirling river of chocolate, cacao beans and foliage. A velvety smooth hot chocolate waterfall is then poured into a Hotel Chocolat cup, bringing viewers back into the real world. 

Gravity Road founder, Mark Eaves, said: 

“There’s something fantastic and magical about chocolate, as well as AI. Hotel Chocolat were looking for a distinctive new brand world and we wanted to find a visually interesting way of bringing their unique story to life. Training GenAI models on the brand’s visual story helped bring this exciting ‘world of happiness’.”  

Gravity Road worked with Hotel Chocolat to develop thorough prompts for GenAI to ensure the output was well aligned with the brand. For example, brand-owned photography and product designs were utilised as well as information about Hotel Chocolat’s cacao farm on the island of Saint Lucia. So it’s no accident that “Velvetise into Happiness” includes the tropical plants, palm trees and sunny skies that one would expect to find in the Caribbean.  

In addition to inspiring the creative strategy, GenAI tools were also leveraged throughout the production process. CGI was integrated with AI to generate the TV and digital assets and then Gravity Road once again enlisted GenAI to review the completed creative to generate additional iterations of the campaign.  

Not only does the ad deliver feelings of escapism and happiness, like what you would expect to experience when making a cup of velvetised hot chocolate, it also helps Hotel Chocolat differentiate itself from the typical chocolate category ad. The world successfully captures the broad-beam attention of the right brain, delivering a 5.9-Star Rating.   

Gravity Road also engaged System1 to understand how the ad could potentially be improved. System1’s Creative Guidance included branding recommendations and as a result, the ad saw a lift in brand recognition as well as short-term sales potential.  

Added Eaves, “We were able to accomplish a level of animation quality for Hotel Chocolat that is traditionally cost-prohibitive for some brands. On top of that, we were able to take GenAI and ground it in an evidence-based demonstration of marketing effectiveness.” 

Hotel Chocolat Chief Marketing Officer, Lynne Ormrod said: “It’s exciting to finally be able to bring to life the escapist journey you experience with our chocolate. Our role is to make people and nature happy through reinventing chocolate. With this work we’ve loved being able to use Gen AI tools and CGI to bring to life how it feels to both make the drinking chocolate with the Velvetiser and the anticipation of tasting it. A velvety smooth cup of drinking chocolate is the epitome of chocolate happiness!” 

Human creativity and guidance with a dash of GenAI proves to be the perfect blend for a 5-Star ad. And we suspect it’s not the last example we’ll see this year.   

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