Critical Mass

Critical Mass

Calgary, Canada

Digital

TitleA Conversation of Consequence
Agency
Campaign A Conversation of Consequence
Advertiser Famou5 Foundation
Brand Famou5 Foundation
Date of First Broadcast/Publication
Business Sector Others
Tagline Some Voices Are Meant to Be Heard
Story

Before 1929, women in Canada were not legally considered “persons.” A group of five courageous women, known as the Famous Five, changed the course of history when they petitioned the government for equal standing.

Their work was controversial, and often done in secret. Their meetings were disguised to appear like dainty tea parties, known as “Pink Teas.” Statues depicting these meetings stand both in Calgary, Alberta and the nation’s capital, Ottawa.

In a world obsessed with the here and now, something that happened 86 years ago might as well have happened 1,000 years ago. For many, the past has become distant and disconnected.

At the same time, gender inequality in Canada has not become a thing of the past. The message of the Famous Five is as important today as ever. But how can we use a past people are disconnected from to help inspire women and girls today? 

Philosophy

We wanted the listener to not just hear, but to feel.

With this in mind, we began thinking about the Famous Five, Pink Tea parties and the monuments that stand in their honour in both the capital city of Canada and Calgary. We stood in the middle of the statue, looked around and took it in. We closed our eyes, and we could almost hear the meeting going on around us.

That’s when we knew what we were going to do. We were going to recreate a Pink Tea with 3D, binaural audio. We would literally put the listener at the centre of the conversation depicted by the statues. They would be immersed and completely part of the event. For a few minutes, the meeting would feel real and relevant. 

Problem

To revive interest and kindle inspiration in a new generation of millennial women, we needed to find a way to make something that happened almost a century ago in a very different society feel personal, real and relatable.

With any great event in history there are two camps of people: those who were there, and those who weren’t. Those who weren’t know about the event, but didn’t ever really feel it. Their understanding is more academic and less emotional. Less personal.

Despite being separated by 86 years, we had to find a way to replicate the experience of being there for a new generation of Canadian women and girls. If we could transport our audience back in time to the real moment the statues depict, the Famous Five’s message would resonate in a way it had not for almost a century. 

Result

We worked with a playwright and developed a script of a Famous 5 “Pink Tea.” Utilizing binaural audio technology, we recorded a live performance of the piece with a specialized 360-degree microphone.

By using multiple microphones set up in the ears of a dummy head, binaural audio captures sound, and then plays it back in a way that the ear and brain understand to be three-dimensional. Where conventional audio recordings provide a passive experience, binaural actively engages the listener’s brain by situating them in the space through audio. The listener doesn’t just hear, they feel.

With our audio piece complete, we developed a corresponding video component that used a small shape in a subtle way to suggest where the sound was coming from. We wanted the user to pay less attention to the visual and more to the audio, so we ensured the visual element was complementary and not distracting. 

After nearly a century, the Famous 5’s voices were finally heard loud and clear again. The binaural experience earned a great deal of organic media coverage nationwide and has been made into a permanent exhibit to ensure the attention persists. It has also made its way into classrooms, as Canadian teachers have adopted it as part of their lessons. Additionally, it’s going to be featured as a part of Canada Day celebrations across the nation, in both in the country’s capital of Ottawa and in Calgary. All of that attention contributed to a 400% increase in traffic to the Famous 5 website. 

Media Type Applications
Length
More Information http://www.famou5.ca/binaural

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