Responses by Myles Lord, managing creative director, Serviceplan Berlin.
Background: Our primary target audience with this campaign is the trans community, and our project aims to help trans people be more comfortable with their childhood photos.
Our secondary target audience is the general public, and our purpose here is to promote trans visibility and understanding to help foster a society that is more accepting and supportive of the trans community.
Design thinking: We discovered through our research that many trans people can no longer look at their childhood photographs. Old pictures can trigger feelings of gender dysphoria and may be a painful reminder of their struggles pre-transition. To many trans people, these old photos stay packed away. The idea was to try and bring these photos back with the power of AI, to adjust and transform gender cues and norms often placed on them by family and society, and realign these images with their true gender identity. So, we gathered a team of very brave trans social media influencers and German nongovernmental organizations and brought the idea to Jacques Alomo, one of Germany’s leading AI specialists.
Challenges: Certainly the AI part. We all imagine that AI is some magic box that solves your problems with the push of a button. But this was definitely not the case. We quickly realized that the AI was good at coming up with options—thousands of really interesting options—but really, we were looking for that one specific solution, that one picture where you see the person really captured. In the end, we needed to go in two directions: one, take a picture of the person today and make them younger, and two, take their childhood photograph and swap the gender. We then combined these directions in the third step of generating the final picture. Many pictures were also transformed in parts: i.e., dealing with hair or a part of the face while keeping other parts unaltered.
Favorite details: Certainly, the response from the trans community. We are so happy to see this technique could be a meaningful coping mechanism in dealing with gender dysphoria.
New lessons: We discovered AI is a tool, not a solution. AI is really powerful but nothing without a human eye to guide it.
We also learned a lot about communicating with the trans and LGBTQIA community. So many agencies and brands are afraid of making a wrong step. We all have good intentions, but maybe we lack the knowledge and key insights. The solution: Bring the community to the table and build it together. Reach out to nongovermental organizations in your areas and ask them to help you with the language of the work.
Time constraints: As soon as the project was green lit, we had to sprint to be ready to launch on International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersex Discrimination and Transphobia. Sometimes, having less time and a rigid deadline helps the project stay simple and true to the core idea.