Lupin Fan Struggles to Pronounce Show Name for TV Voice Assistant in Funny Netflix Ad

Netflix is promoting its new show Lupin by poking fun at how people may struggle to pronounce the French detective’s name correctly when requesting the show from a voice assistant on their television. The ad demonstrates a common issue that many people can relate to as voice assistants become ubiquitous, even if the actual issue is one voice assistant developers have largely defeated.

Parsing Pronouncement

Lupin, a police procedural set in France, naturally is in French. That means the American English way to say the show title is very different from the correct version. In the ad, an eager viewer asks an anonymized voice assistant on his TV to play Lupin with the wrong pronunciation, meaning the AI doesn’t understand what he is asking more. A minute-long montage of continued failure to say the name correctly follows before he eventually gets it right. The show and its main character’s name are pronounced “LOO-PAHN” according to the end of the ad and a follow-up tweet from Netflix.

The ad mocks the way what people say has to be precise when interacting with a voice assistant, which is an issue that’s consistently cited by people frustrated with voice assistants. Though the tech has improved a lot over the last couple of years, there are still problems when it comes to proper nouns and words in languages that aren’t the one the AI is set to at the moment. Plenty of ongoing projects are working to end the issue, even as a joke. Recently, Google Assistant added the option to include proper pronunciation in a user’s contacts, directly teaching the voice assistant how to say the name. Samsung Bixby has a similar option for telling the voice assistant their relationship with a contact and using it instead of their name, like Dad or Grandma. Meanwhile, to combat the inability of standard voice assistants to say few South African names or words correctly, news provider Media24 created its own synthetic voice to read stories on its website with a local accent and proper pronunciations. Maybe next time he wants to watch a foreign language show, the man in the ad won’t have to beg quite as much.

“This is very funny and a great way to promote a new show. Of course, they should have added some common mispronunciations to their model as we all know,” Voicebot found Bret Kinsella commented about the ad. “Always better to have happy users. What strikes me is that voice is now so common that general ads can include it and everyone knows what it’s about and can empathize with the experience. We are a long way from the early Amazon Super Bowl ads.”

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