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By The Drum, Editorial

June 6, 2024 | 4 min read

Winning Charity or Not-for-Profit Gold in The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas is EP+Co and Worth Rises ‘The Most Famous Speech Never Given.’ Here is the award-winning case study.

Objective

Advertising has long been seen as a form of manipulation designed to convince more people to buy more products. While this understanding isn’t entirely wrong, we’ve embarked on a mission to transform the industry and usher in a new era of advertising. This era empowers creative agencies to use their talents, tools, and resources to make more than ads – to make change and impact the greater good.

Our mission presents an innovative concept that promises to push the entire advertising discipline forward. A prime example of this is the creative campaign ‘The Most Famous Speech Never Given,’ produced on behalf of the nonprofit advocacy organization Worth Rises.

The Campaign

The campaign used AI and CGI to effectively interview President Abraham Lincoln – and resurrect him. The 13th Amendment is often celebrated as the landmark legislation that ended slavery in the United States, with President Lincoln recognized among its fiercest advocates. What 88% of Americans don’t realize, however, is that this amendment contains an exception clause, allowing slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime since its enactment in 1865.

While President Lincoln was aware of this exception, he leveraged it to garner bipartisan support for the amendment, anticipating it would be abolished shortly thereafter. We wondered what the former president would say if he could see the 1.2 million incarcerated people who are still suffering under it nearly two centuries later. Using AI, we asked him.

Creating Lincoln’s Speech

By uploading a range of Lincoln’s previously written works and speeches to two generative AI platforms, ChatGPT and Jasper, we trained the technology to take on Lincoln’s unique tone, dialect, and language choices. Then, we asked the technology — writing as Lincoln — to deliver a speech about slavery’s persistence. To authenticate the speech’s accuracy, we asked the nation’s foremost Lincoln scholar, Harold Holzer, to review the work. His consensus? The writing aligns with the person history tells us Lincoln was then and would be today.

While we could have stopped there, we wanted to ensure our campaign to drive awareness around and ultimately end the exception was as impactful as possible. So we brought Lincoln back in CGI form to address the nation.

Bringing Lincoln to Life

First, we developed Lincoln’s authentic speaking voice, mannerisms, and movements through a mix of AI and casting that considered elements including the speech patterns of Lincoln’s home state (Indiana), his height, his weight, and other factors that would have influenced the sound of his voice and body language. Then, we asked an actor who had previously played Honest Abe on the History Channel to don a motion-capture suit and recreate Lincoln’s movements. Finally, using Unreal Engine and its groundbreaking Metahuman technology, we transformed our actor into an incredibly detailed and lifelike replica of Lincoln and put him on stage for a four-minute speech in which he addressed the nation.

Campaign Launch and Impact

Strategically launched ahead of the 2024 elections, the online and social campaign works to drive public education and legislative action, encouraging Americans to demand change on a federal level and support the Abolition Amendment to truly end slavery for all.

The campaign earned exclusive coverage by Forbes and additional coverage by Fast Company, Adweek, MediaPost, Shoot, Shots, and more, as well as a spotlight at SXSW 2024. Our campaign reached more than 88 million people and saw audiences take over 5,000 actions to call on legislators and demand they end the exception.

Ready to get your work recognized on a global stage? Enter The Drum Awards today. Need more inspiration, read our Award Winning Case Studies.

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