A young girl in a forest standing opposite a large furry creature

Apple: The Lost Voice campaign

Taika Waititi directs the commercial at the heart of this campaign, which aims to promote Apple’s Personal Voice feature. This can be used to preserve voices that might be lost to illness

Our voices can be an important part of what makes each of us feel unique. Yet millions of people around the world are at risk of losing their ability to speak due to degenerative conditions such as motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, dementia and cancer.

Many people with these conditions rely on text-to-speech readers that can sound robotic and impersonal. Now people can preserve and recreate their own voice on their own device with Apple’s Personal Voice feature. The secure feature works by recording prompt phrases that are then processed using neural networks to create a snapshot of a person’s voice.

Their voice can then be reproduced on Apple devices using the Live Speech function, meaning that if a person ever loses the ability to speak in the future, they can continue to communicate through Apple products in their own voice.

To coincide with International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Apple launched a campaign called The Lost Voice that highlights this life-changing accessibility feature. At the heart of the campaign is a hero film directed by Taika Waititi that takes the form of a storybook tale featuring a young girl and her magical friend as they search high and low for a voice that has gone missing.

Together, the pair traverse striking New Zealand landscapes and encounter fantasy characters along the way, with all the accoutrements of an enchanted bedtime story. The ad’s soundtrack, a rendition of X Carbon’s Yodeler, uses human vocal samples to striking effect.

An owl-like puppet in a forest

At the end of the film, it is revealed that the story is being read aloud by a father to his daughter using Personal Voice. The father who appears in the film is played by physician, professor and disability advocate Dr Tristram Ingham, who uses the Apple product feature in his personal life and used it to narrate the ad.

“Disability communities are very mindful of proxy voices speaking on our behalf,” Ingham said at the time of the campaign launch. “Historically, providers have spoken for disabled people, family have spoken for disabled people. If technology can allow a voice to be preserved and maintained, that’s autonomy, that’s self-determination.”

As part of the campaign, the tale that formed the basis of the ad was published as an illustrated hardback storybook and a free downloadable e-book.

Stu Outhwaite-Noel, CCO at Creature and a judge for the Annual Awards, explains why the campaign was picked as a winner:

Category: In-house Campaigns
Brand: Apple