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DICTATORS

MISCHIEF @ NO FIXED ADDRESS, Brooklyn / REPRESENTUS / 2021

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Overview

Credits

Overview

Describe the creative idea

Americans are more divided than ever, and it’s putting our very democracy at risk.

RepresentUS is a bi-partisan organization dedicated to fighting political corruption. Their research revealed (as anyone watching the news can see) that American politics have become increasingly polarized, less co-operative, less effective and more volatile. How do we use the 2020 election as the perfect flashpoint for how all these dangerous trends are putting the very nature of American democracy at risk?

The Dictators address America.

We used deep-fake technology to have controversial world leaders Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin issue a chilling message that outside interference isn’t necessary for democratic collapse—Americans are doing it to themselves.

Over two videos, Jong-un and Putin directly addressed the American public, pointing out the current state of America—basically thanking them for doing the job of destabilizing the country for them.

The videos aren’t real. But the threat is.

Describe the execution

With America's democracy in crisis, non-profit, bipartisan, anti-corruption organization (try saying that three times in a row) RepresentUs needed to appeal to during the noisiest time during US politics—the 2020 election.

So we created deepfake videos of authoritarian leaders Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin issuing a chilling warning about the fragility of democracy.

The production involved casting native-speaking actors with similar face, hairline and bone structure and shooting them against a green screen to mimic authentic locations, such as Kim's desk and Putin's podium.

Then it was on to the machine learning artist to work his magic. We then ran machine learning multiple times to simulate the best likenesses. It required compiling a huge database of imagery and videos for us to mimic facial expressions. A challenging feat, given that there are very limited public-facing videos of Kim.

The process took ten days from shoot to delivery.

We launched on September 29 strategically to leave a lengthy, four-week lead up to the election in which time people could follow the CTA to learn more about RepresentUs' fight against government corruption.

The two spots went live on YouTube and were shared across social channels including Twitter and Instagram. Most channels blocked paid given the deepfake. And we had planned a local TV buy in a number of states which was banned at the eleventh hour. Our PR process shifted and the story was re-worked to this new banning angle, which ultimately helped the campaign go viral. Everything was organic.

The campaign racked up more than 1.2 BILLION in earned media. It way surpassed scale expectations, evolving from a US-focused campaign to a global conversation.

It is believed to be the first time deepfake was used in the political realm with a positive agenda as part of an ad campaign.

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