US actor and businessman Ashton Kutcher came to the defense of insurance tech company Lemonade, founded by Israeli entrepreneurs, after the largest American insurance company, State Farm Insurance, rolled out an ad mocking the use of bots and artificial intelligence for insurance.
Lemonade has been reshaping the insurance market ever since it was created in 2015 by entrepreneurs Shai Winninger, a co-founder of Fiverr.com, and Daniel Schreiber, former president of Powermat. The company uses behavioral economics, leveraging artificial intelligence and chatbots to deliver renters and homeowners insurance policies and handle claims for users in 16 states.
Kutcher’s Sound Ventures is invested in Lemonade, which has raised some $180 million in venture capital since its founding.
State Farm published an ad on YouTube last week with the caption: “Nothing compares to an actual human being helping out whenever you need. Plus, humans won’t start crying weird AI tears all over your car.”
The 45-second video features basketball stars James Harden and Chris Paul from the Houston Rockets and actor Oscar Nunez of “The Office” fame, who poses as a State Farm agent inspecting a damaged car belonging to one of the players. A robotic humanoid shows up, from a company called InsuroBotz.biz, and proceeds to experience a number of funny malfunctions to its system while attempting to handle the claim.
Nunez as the State Farm agent tells the players that the robot couldn’t possibly have the “compassion” of a human agent, to which the humanoid responds that it indeed does as water begins pouring out of its eye in a stream – an attempt at crying – in a bid to display said compassion.
The ad is meant to illustrate the merit of customer service delivered by a human.
In response to the video, Kutcher took to Twitter to hit back at State Farm, asking if their ad team was run by bullies”: So basically this ad says you are getting killed by more efficient intelligent technical solutions like @lemonade_inc So your answer is to have 2 cool basketball players make fun of them? Is your marketing firm run by high school bullies @statefarm?”
Lemonade also tweeted from its official account: “Wait, @StateFarm, did you just fork out millions of your customers’ premiums on an attack ad against @Lemonade_Inc and bots? As in, the country’s biggest insurance company is feeling the heat and getting A-listers to bash technology? #AskingForAFriend”?
“Is the largest insurer in the nation feeling defensive about @Lemonade_Inc? LOVE IT!” asked Schreiber .