Cannes Lions

Without Consent - A Message from Ella

adam&eve, Berlin / DEUTSCHE TELEKOM / 2024

Awards:

2 Gold Cannes Lions
2 Bronze Cannes Lions
6 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

2023 was the year AI tools became easy to use for everyone, raising a lot of concerns about the safety of the data we share in social media.

Yet, parents still share their kids' data on social media, unaware of potential consequences on their future: identity theft, scamming, harassment, deepfake pornography and child sexual abuse material.

As Europe’s leading telco brand, Deutsche Telekom’s ambition is to connect everyone to the opportunities of the digital world. But with the privacy of a whole generation at risk, Deutsche Telekom wanted to build on its legacy and step up to protect children against the recent arising threats.

The brief: Develop a PR-led campaign that brings awareness to the digital threat of online sharing, inspires behavioral change, and strengthens the brand’s perception as a protective force for the digital society.

Idea

Using the latest Al technology on a single photograph, we created the virtually aged version of a 9-year-old girl: Ella. In our film, she confronts her parents – and by extension parents worldwide – with the consequences of sharing kids' data online, sending a gut-wrenching warning from the future.

This way, our film became both a literal demonstration of AI manipulation capabilities and an emotional plea for the online safety of all children. As part of the campaign, we also created a solution to the problem: a social media filter pixelating children’s faces, empowering parents to #ShareWithCare and protect their children’s privacy.

Strategy

With “A message from Ella”, we confronted a generation of oversharers. Today’s parents grew up in a time, where social media was care-free, public and generally safe. To these parents, pictures shared online are just memories.

But with the rise of online fraud, AI and deepfake technology, memories turn data, that can be easily exploited. We needed to change parent’s online behavior – to protect their children in the future.

So, to raise awareness for the issue of “sharenting”,

and convince parents to #ShareWithCare, we gave voice to a child, by creating a cautionary tale that confronted parents with the consequences of their careless online behavior.

In creating a “testimonal” for online data abuse, we anticipated parents’ willingness to share highly emotional and shocking content, and the media outlet’s thirst for trending topics.

Execution

The Method:

Usually, deepfake technology requires a large data set of source videos and a complex face-mapping process. But, since we wanted to stress the harm that can be done with just a single picture, our challenge was to create a whole deepfake video from a single JPEG file: a photo of 9-year-old Ella, just like those that can easily be found on social media.

We fed that photo to an AI engine that created a realistic version of a grown-up Ella by ageing her facial features. Then, we trained a machine-learning engine to recognize faces in moving images and replaced it with Ella’s aged face.

Finally, we recorded Ella’s message using a stand-in actress and replaced her face using our newly trained engine. The engine was able to replace the face and maintain all the original facial expressions and emotions.

The implementation:

We shared Ella’s heartfelt message on all relevant social media platforms – targeting parents right where they are sharing their kids’ data. Within hours, it organically spread everywhere.

From TikTok to Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, thought leaders endorsed our message.

Parenting influencers spread it among their communities. We made the jump to messengers like WhatsApp, turning our target audience into organic influencers themselves: advising families and friends to #ShareWithCare.

A campaign website provided parents, news outlets and institutions with educational resources for safer sharing. As a solution, we published a social media filter to automatically pixelate children’s faces when videos and pictures are taken.

Brand Relevance:

62% of non-customer parents affirmed that Telekom’s data safety and virtual privacy commitment will make them consider the company as a telecommunications provider in the future.

Ella’s message is now an educational tool used by European police agencies, such as the Scotland police and the state polices across Germany.

Outcome

Ella’s message became a viral hit. Reaching over 51 million views and 3.7 billion earned impressions in 71 countries. Over 400+ media outlets picked up Ella’s message.

The strategy of using highly-emotional storytelling payed of – as seen in a 64 % view-though-rate (Benchmark: 10 %).

The film sparked the public’s demand for children’s online privacy – indicated by a 1000% increase in google searches for “sharenting” and over 184.000 visits to the German campaign landing page since its launch on 3rd of July 2023.

62 % of non-customer parents affirmed that Telekom’s data safety and virtual privacy commitment will make them consider the company as a telecommunications provider in the future.

Ella’s message is now an educational tool used by European police agencies, such as the Scotland police and the state polices across Germany.

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