The Impossible Statue: does AI have a creative role to play in digital manufacturing?


Sandvik’s Impossible Statue, a modern engineering masterpiece, is a collaboration over 500 years between five of the world’s greatest sculptors. It was created to challenge perceptions about what AI and state-of-the-art digital manufacturing can achieve, build brand awareness, generate leads and attract tech talent.

Current Global’s earned-first strategy intentionally tapped into debates about AI’s creative role, sparking global conversations. This campaign wasn't just about reshaping perceptions; it was about redefining what's possible in B2B storytelling.

It generated an increase in sales leads and 35% more interest in jobs at Sandvik.

Like Sandvik, we didn't just talk innovation… we sculpted it.


Manufacturing is rapidly digitising. Access to big data, analytics, robotics and AI are transforming production and creating new business opportunities for manufacturers. But many organisations don’t understand the benefits until the try it for themselves, meaning adoption can be slow.

Current Global was engaged to demonstrate the breadth and depth of global engineering company Sandvik’s innovation and expertise to a business to business audience.

But in a competitive market, its customers can prefer to stay quiet and so case studies can’t be relied on as proof points to drive sales. We needed to devise other ways of showing Sandvik’s expertise in action.


Sandvik operates in competitive sectors like mining, manufacturing and aerospace, and its customers can often keep their cards close to their chest when it comes to revealing which technologies help power their operations.

And, when you’re an engineering company with a 161-year heritage, it can be difficult to shift historic perceptions of what you do and how you do it. We wanted to show Sandvik’s potential and existing customers what digital manufacturing can make possible – by doing something impossible.

Towards the end of 2022, AI was rapidly growing from a topic of interest for the tech sector to the top of the mainstream news agenda. Interest exploded and everyone was talking AI.

But in order to accelerate the conversation around digitalisation and capitalise on the fact that business audiences everywhere were engaging with AI, we needed to show, not just tell, that Sandvik is exciting, innovative and collaborative to work for and with.

Strategy & Approach.

The Impossible Statue was created to meet this need and challenge perceptions about digital manufacturing.

The statue is an impossible collaboration spanning 500 years and three continents; it was designed by training multiple AI models on the work of five of the world’s greatest and most renowned sculptors (from five major Sandvik markets), balancing some of their best-known attributes into a unique new design:

  •  The dynamic off-balance poses of Michelangelo (Italy).
  • The musculature and reflectiveness of Auguste Rodin (France).
  • The expressionist feeling of Käthe Kollwitz (Germany).
  • The focus on momentum and mass exhibited by Takamura Kotaro (Japan).
  • The defiance in the figures of Augusta Savage (USA).

Sandvik’s advanced digital manufacturing solutions and tools turned the nine million polygons of the AI-generated design into a real, physical work. Rather than casting it like a traditional sculpture, Sandvik machined the statue from steel, requiring the use of advanced manufacturing technologies and tools. The final piece stands 150cm tall, weighs 500kg and deviates from the digital design by less than 0.03mm, a remarkable result considering its size and complexity.

Our strategy took an earned-first approach to media, supported by owned, social and paid media. The actual manufacture of the statue took some time, and between ideation, manufacture and launch, AI grew from a topic of interest to top of the news agenda thanks to the growth of Chat GPT and the launch of several major consumer-facing AI products. Everyone was talking about AI – and cutting through the noise became exponentially tougher.


Our big advantage was that our story wasn’t only about AI – it was about amazing engineering capabilities too. We wanted to generate as much global exposure and conversation as possible, so took a three-strand approach to our earned-first strategy, targeting:

1.    Hero coverage in major innovation titles, seen by engaged audiences who we knew would actively talk about and share the story.

2.    Arts correspondents, less overwhelmed by AI pitches but interested in a debate around AI’s contribution to artistic practice.

3.    Key industry media, interested in the finer details of the statue’s creation. 

An important facet of the campaign was to show what Sandvik can make possible to new and potential customers and generate sales leads. That’s why it made sense to build a connection to some of Sandvik’s biggest or most strategically important markets, which is why an international cohort of sculptors was selected to feed into the AI models.

With a deep knowledge of in-region media, we knew that it was important to enable local teams to reach local audiences. To this end, we developed a toolkit for regional teams, with translated pitches, written assets, videos and local facts and statistics, and even a CAD file so media could 3D print a mini-statue of their own.

With AI at the core of The Impossible Statue, it acts as a catalyst for passionate discussion about artistic merit, creative ideation and the role of technology in augmenting artistic process. We didn’t shy away from this debate. In fact, we welcomed it – because we knew that regardless of what critics think of the statue, no one can doubt that if you work at Sandvik, you join a group with unrivalled engineering and manufacturing expertise that can make the impossible, possible.

Results & Learnings.

Ultimately we generated over 700 pieces of coverage and hit a potential reach of 70 million people on social. The launch was timed to land alongside a broadcast exclusive secured with Reuters, filmed at the Tekniska Museet, and an online exclusive with Fast Company.

Other major pieces of coverage were secured in-region with titles including Huffington Post, Wired and AFP; the art angle was picked up by major titles including leading Italian daily paper Corriere Della Sera, Hyperallergic, Trendhunter and Artazine – all titles with highly engaged audiences which helped to drive the social conversation.

The statue has since become a go-to example in wider media reporting on what cutting edge manufacturing and AI can achieve, and a healthy debate about the statue’s artistic merit goes on. Images of the statue have been used to illustrate stories in national newspapers around EU AI policy, making it a visual representation of the biggest technology trend of 2023.

Sandvik reported numerous inbound requests from clients and prospects off the back of seeing the Statue; Sandvik’s website registered a 43% increase in new site visits and a 48% increase in site engagement.

We also succeeded in engaging a new talent pool: clicks on Sandvik job postings went up by 35% off the back of the campaign.

Our earned approach fuelled the debate we wanted.

It’s called The Impossible Statue, a title that given the underlying concept and laborious design process seems hardly hyperbolic.

Journalist, Artnet

The way an AI-based creation process can be guided by humans and work with machines at different levels to create something tangible… is a brilliant glimpse at what these technologies may bring to us.

Journalist, Fast Company

Sandvik’s dedication to excellence extends beyond aesthetics. The manufacturing process exemplifies their commitment to efficiency and sustainability. 

Journalist, Artazine
Pieces of media coverage.
Increase in clicks on Sandvik job postings.
Increase in visits to
Increase in web engagement.

Today, the Impossible Statue is proudly displayed in Stockholm’s Tekniska Museet, Sweden’s National Museum of Science & Technology.

It is also available in Lego.

One of the things I appreciate the most is the honest and open-minded dialogue with the team at Current Global. They have the ability to combine strategic counselling with practical execution and hands-on production which is not always the case with other agencies.

Edvard Bergström, Vice President, Corporate Communications, Sandvik


The Impossible Statue: does AI have a creative role to play in digital manufacturing?

Earned-first campaign that sparked global debate on AI's creative potential, reshaped B2B storytelling and led to increased sales leads and job interest.

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