Brand Experience and Activation > Touchpoints & Technology


FCB INFERNO, London / HUAWEI / 2019


Gold Cannes Lions
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Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation?

Opening the world of books to 32 million deaf children and their families, StorySign truly embodies Huawei’s brand promise to ‘push the limits of what is humanly possible’. The first global literacy platform for the deaf, StorySign was created by an alliance of international partners, including 11 deaf charities, Academy Award-winning animators, and the world’s leading publisher. This revolutionary app shows how Huawei’s mobile AI can make a positive difference, by helping to solve a human problem. And nothing is more human than a child being able to enjoy a bedtime story for the first time.


Huawei, the world’s second largest smartphone manufacturer, challenged us to bring to life their brand promise – ‘push the limits of what is humanly possible.’ So we identified a human problem their technology could help solve. There are 32 million deaf children in the world, and most of them struggle to read. This is because deaf children don’t learn to read like hearing children. They can’t learn phonetically, so they struggle to match words with sounds. This has a hugely negative impact on their education and their futures. In fact, new research shows that it takes 21 years for deaf children to catch up with their hearing peers. We agreed three key objectives:

• Use Huawei mobile technology to open the world of books to deaf children

• Improve Huawei brand perception

• Raise awareness of deaf literacy issues

Describe the creative idea

To change the story of deaf illiteracy and show the power of Huawei’s mobile technology, we needed an idea that offered real change to a generation of deaf children. We created the first global literacy platform for the deaf: StorySign. A revolutionary free app, StorySign scans the words in selected children’s books and instantly translates them into sign language, using the most advanced signing avatar ever. For the first time, deaf children and their parents can learn to read and sign, together. StorySign uses the power of Huawei’s Kirin AI chip to boost existing OCR technology. AI means the app is more accurate, reads text at 45 degrees with seamless image recognition, and even works in low light conditions for bedtime stories. Available in 11 countries so far, supported by 11 international deaf charities, StorySign truly delivers on Huawei’s brand promise to ‘push the limits of what is humanly possible’.

Describe the strategy

Our research revealed the impact of deaf illiteracy throughout life. 90% of deaf children have hearing parents, most of whom do not sign and so can’t share bedtime stories. 57% of deaf students fail to achieve basic school qualifications. And fewer than 40% of deaf adults are employed. The root of the problem is that deaf children struggle to read, because they can’t learn phonetically. Our insight - if we helped them link words with signs, it would hugely increase what is possible for them in the future. Huawei believe in the positive power of AI, their smartphones include an AI chip. So our strategic approach was two-fold. Change the story of deaf literacy for a core audience of families with deaf children aged 0-5 (key for reading development). And improve Huawei brand perception with a broader global audience by showing AI solving a truly human problem.

Describe the execution

11 international charities ensured StorySign had the needs of deaf children at its heart.

Testing with families resulted in effortless user experience. Hold your smartphone over the words in selected children’s books, and StorySign translates them into sign language. Words are highlighted in sign language order to make the crucial link between words and signs.

Huawei’s Kirin AI chip means StorySign is more accurate, can read text at 45°, and works in low light for bedtime stories.

Oscar-winning Aardman created ‘Star’. Designed to appeal to deaf children, she is the most advanced signing avatar ever.

Penguin Random House, the world’s leading publisher, are adding their books, so deaf children can enjoy the same stories as their hearing friends.

Released in December 2018, available in 11 countries so far, opening books to a generation of deaf children, StorySign answers Huawei’s brand promise to ‘push the limits of what is humanly possible’.

List the results

“This technology can change the future of an entire generation.” - Mark Wheatley, European Union of the Deaf.

StorySign enhanced reading for the deaf community, and made an impact on Huawei’s brand, to such an extent that they are keeping the story going, with a £375K donation to deaf literacy projects, launching the app in China, and more books.

Results have exceeded every objective.

Use Huawei mobile technology to open the world of books to deaf children:

•Launched in 11 countries so far

•Supported by 11 international deaf charities

•52 more books in 2019

Improve Huawei brand perception:

•+19.9% within 2 months

Raise awareness of deaf literacy issues:

•1.5bn+ global reach (target 604 million)

•128m+ app film views (target 40 million)

•1000+ pieces of coverage (target 340)

•£11.4m estimated earned media

Selected media reaction:

•Forbes: “A portal to a whole new world.”

•Wired: “AI translates kids’ books into sign language.”

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