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    I was invited by Campaign to lead a team in their City Live Challenge, a project aiming to showcase a set of new interactive touch screens in Manchester city centre with an interactive campaign for a charity of our choice. I was pitted against a team led by Andy Sandoz from Work Club. We worked on our campaigns over the summer 2014 and both went live in Manchester Sep/Oct. Campaign will announce the winner early December this year.

    The challenge with a brief so full of amazing technical opportunity was how to keep it human – how to make sure Big Data doesn’t overthrow ‘Big Emotion’.

    My team and I paired up with a local Manchester homelessness charity, the Booth Centre.

    After years of decline, homelessness in the UK is on the rise again. Prejudice runs thick, fuelled by fear and misconceptions. The Booth Centre’s biggest challenge is to change how people see the homeless. A secondary objective was to raise sign-ups for their biggest fundraising event, the Manchester Sleepout.

    We wanted to use interactive technology to connect the public in Manchester’s homeless population in a meaningful and impactful way. We wanted to step away from conventional campaigns that shock, preach or guilt trip the public.
    Fear and prejudice comes undone, when you can relate to a fellow human being and empathise with the circumstances.

    The Campaign
    We interviewed some of the people who have been helped by the Booth Centre for Homeless people in Manchester, and shot their stories in one take at the Booth Centre itself.
    The films were designed to help shift perceptions by taking these personal stories from darkness into light – literally. They started out in black and white and as the story progressed turned into an everyday daylight setting.

    We knew the screens were using an advanced face recognition system, QuiVidi, to analyse the demographics of people watching the screens to gather viewing statistics in brackets of age and gender. We tested all our stories to see which target group they most resonated with. Then we hacked the QuiVidi system, transforming it from a reporting mechanism into a content selector. Like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, passers-by will automatically be recognised and served a piece of content that’s more likely to resonate with them.
    That way, our storytelling is data- driven and interactive – but so subtly that it never puts a barrier between the story and the audience.

    How does it work

    Over 7 days of air time in Manchester, we reached close to 100 000 people, had over 5 000 touch interactions, and doubled the amount of Sleepout signups.