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THE UNFILTERED HISTORY TOUR

DENTSU CREATIVE, Bangalore / VICE / 2022

Awards:

Grand Prix Cannes Lions
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Overview

Credits

Overview

Why is this work relevant for Social & Influencer?

At a time when young Britons are questioning their colonial past more than ever, the Unfiltered History Tour is a secret tour of the British Museum’s stolen colonial artefacts, that makes use of a tool the young generation are familiar with - Instagram filters. From Egyptologists, to the seventh descendent of the Gweagal Shield, to the former Governor of Rapa Nui, experts from countries these artefacts were taken from, played tour guides and unfiltered their true histories, with Augmented Reality enabling them to bypass the Museum in real-time via geo-located filters and rebalance centuries of colonial narrative.

Background

SITUATION:

The British Museum is the world’s largest receiver of stolen goods. With over 8 million objects, that’s a lot of potentially looted artefacts. But young audiences have only heard the imperialist version of they got there.

An equitable environment can only be created when young people get the chance to learn about a balanced version of history, from marginalised voices who suffered intergenerational trauma caused by colonial loot.

BRIEF:

VICE World News is a newly formed brand that provides global news reporting for young audiences internationally.

The challenge was to grow their cross-platform audience by cutting through a crowded media environment, while sticking to their editorial mission of placing Vice at the forefront of conversations around under-reported issues like colonialism.

We had to connect with a younger readership, and find a way for them to embrace these issues beyond news headlines and hot takes on social media.

Describe the creative idea

The Unfiltered History Tour is a secret tour of the British Museum’s stolen artefacts via Augmented Reality. However, instead of adding dog ears to a selfie, the same technology was re-engineered to scan and identify life-sized 3D artefacts in differing light conditions throughout the day, to showcase first-ever visual depictions of scenes of colonial crime without the Museum’s knowledge.

When visitors use their smartphones to scan the museum’s stolen artefacts, the relevant filter is activated via geolocation. They hear native experts narrate the true histories of how they were stolen, as first-ever visual depictions of scenes of crime form a contextual overlay over the artefact using Augmented Reality.

While the British Museum’s narrative portrayed the colonies as helpless in the face of British aggression; AR in smartphones were used to tell history from the perspective of the colonies, as formidable foes who fought to save their cultural treasures.

Describe the strategy

DATA GATHERING:

With many young Britons questioning their colonial past, colonial-era institutions like the British Museum continue to push the imperialist, mainstream narrative that’s been in place for centuries.

APPROACH:

We can’t change the past. But we can change how we choose to engage with it in the present.

So we decided to educate these young Britons about their cultural history, using a tool they were intimately familiar with - Instagram filters, told by native experts from countries the artefacts were stolen from.

Activated via geolocation, Augmented Reality in smartphones enabled these native experts to bypass the Museum’s narrative and educate the younger generation directly.

CALL TO ACTION:

Young Britons were invited to unfilter the British Museum’s stolen artefacts with native experts, by taking the Unfiltered History Tour.

Describe the execution

Implementation:

The Instagram filters were developed by a 100-person strong team working remotely for 18 months across 10 timezones. A local team in London anonymously gathered data using LiDAR technology.

AR technicians accounted for changing light conditions inside the museum by developing an Instagram filter based on real-time weather to dynamically adapt to the changing environment at the museum, in a first of its kind Instagram Filter that blends satellite data with Augmented Reality.

Timeline

Launched in December 2021.

Placement

Instagram Augmented Reality filters to be scanned by visitors at the British Museum, through their phones.

Scale

Every Museum visitor can use AR filters through their smartphones to scan the Museum’s stolen artefacts, and unfilter their true history. Audiences around the world can partake in immersive audio-visual experiences and extended podcasts hosted on The Unfiltered History Tour microsite.

List the results

In a YouGov poll conducted weeks after the Tour was launched, 59% of Britons said they believed the Parthenon Marbles (part of the Tour) belonged in Greece, a sharp turn in the opposite direction.

Campaign Reach and Engagement:

18 million impressions

100,000+ tours unfiltered

990,000 sq. ft. of the British Museum unfiltered.

40% rise in TikTok followers

49% increase in total impressions on Instagram

Endorsed by former UN Under-Secretary General Shashi Tharoor

2 million earned video views on TikTok.

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