2019 Glass: The Award for Change

THE GENDERLESS VOICE

Short List
ClientCOPENHAGEN PRIDE
Category A01. Glass
TitleTHE GENDERLESS VOICE
Product/ServiceQ
Entrant VIRTUE Copenhagen, DENMARK
Idea Creation VIRTUE Copenhagen, DENMARK
PR VIRTUE Copenhagen, DENMARK
Production VIRTUE Copenhagen, DENMARK
Additional Company COPENHAGEN PRIDE, DENMARK
Credits
Name Company Position
Emil Asmussen Virtue Creative Director
Ryan Sherman VIRTUE Senior Creative
Jacob Ziegler VIRTUE Senior Designer
Haywood Watkins III VIRTUE Senior Copywriter
Sahand Porkar VIRTUE Creative Technologist
Laura Misslebrook VIRTUE SVP Communications
Laura Van Horssen VIRTUE Head of Communications
Hannah Benabdallah VIRTUE Brand Communications Manager
Tobias Holz VIRTUE Talent Director
Bruno Carvalho VIRTUE Producer
Anders Lindved VIRTUE DOP
Max Siegal VIRTUE Editor
Nis Nørgaard Thirtysoundsgood Sound Engineer
Julie Carpenter Accenture Consultant
Laust Deleuran Koaliton UX designer & front-end developer
Morten Grubak VIRTUE Executive Creative Director
Rob Newlan VIRTUE CEO
Dominique Delport VIRTUE President

Background

“Copenhagen Pride works to challenge the gender binary and combat harmful and often limiting gender stereotypes that fail to recognize non-binary gender identities. We, alongside Pride movements all over the world, believe that gender is a complex spectrum and that people should have the freedom to self-identify and the opportunity to see themselves reflected and recognized both in society and in their everyday life - binary and non-binary alike. We didn’t brief Virtue, but instead, they came to us with a powerful idea that resonated with our core and mission. With Q we aim to get the attention of leading technology companies who work with AI to ensure they are aware that a gender binary normativity excludes many people and to inspire them by showing how easy it would be to recognize that more than two genders exist." Thomas Rasmussen, Head of Communication, Pride Copenhagen

Describe the cultural / social / political climate in your region and the significance of your campaign within this context

“Q, a gender-neutral voice for use in voice assistive technologies, was developed in part to contribute to a global discussion about gender and technology. Q can be viewed as inclusive nonbinary gender option for AI and natural language interactivity that is embedded in things we interact with in our everyday world, from GPS to phone and home assistants or even robots or appliances. People seem to have a preference for female voices when the role of the AI is more supportive and to assist or help someone, while they associate male voices with an authoritative tone or an area of expertise - but there is no reason that a voice has to be gendered.” - Julie Carpenter, Research Fellow, California State Polytechnic University. “We would never accept that AI assistants had stereotypical slave or ethnic names - so why are tech companies reinforcing gender stereotypes and cementing what jobs females or males do - while also ignoring the transgender/gender fluid community?” - Anders Sörman-Nilsson, Author and Keynote Speaker

Describe the creative idea

Boot up the options for your digital voice assistant of choice and you’re likely to find two options for the gender you prefer interacting with: male or female. The problem is, that binary choice isn’t an accurate representation of the complexities of gender. Some people don’t identify as either male or female, and they may want their voice assistant to mirror that identity. As third gender options are being recognized across the globe, it feels stagnant that technology is still stuck in the past only providing two binary options. That’s why Copenhagen Pride is launching Q, the world’s first genderless voice for voice AI. Created for a future where we are no longer defined by gender.

Describe the strategy

The project is confronting a new digital universe fraught with problems. It’s no accident that Siri, Cortana, and Alexa all have female voices, but as designers make that choice, they run the risk of reinforcing gender stereotypes and excluding people who identify beyond binary gender norms. With Q, the thinking goes, we can not only make technology more inclusive but also use that technology to spark conversation on social issues. When we launched Q sparking a global conversation was at the core of the strategy. Instead of going straight to the major technology companies and asking them to implement Q, we gave the power to the people and launched Q as a PR driven campaign that encourages people to share Q with Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. To do so, we worked with two target groups; the global LGBTQ community and key opinion leaders in technology.

Describe the execution

Led by the agency, a team of linguists, technologists, and sound designers began by recording the voices of two dozen people who identify as transgender or nonbinary. After testing several different versions across 4600 participants, the result was a voice that was perceived genderneutral by the majority. The voice sits between 145 and 175 hertz, a range that research shows we perceive as more gender-neutral. The voice lives on www.genderlessvoice.com and was supported by a launch film on all major social channels, a global PR push, and a launch event at SXSW hosted by Equal AI. Within the first week, Q had traveled across the globe in media like Wired, The Guardian, BBC, Japan Today, The Hindu and El Pais reaching more than 6.7 BN eyeballs.

Describe the results / impact

From March 4th 2019 to March 28th 2019 generated Total reach: 6.7 BN Total shares: +50.000 Average shares: 515 Journalist reached: 1,380,571 Companies who reached out to implement Q: +50 General press highlights: CNN, Fox News, The Telegraph, NowThis, The Mirror, CNBC, The Guardian, Yahoo News, VICELAND, Bloomberg, Daily Mail, Evening Standard, ABC, BBC, NPR, El Pais, Financial Times, GQ, Trendhunter, The Inquirer, Metro, MSN, Japan Today and The Hindu. Tech press highlights: Fast Company, Wired, The Future Laboratory, TechCrunch, Techrabyte, Geek.com and Techtimes Industry press highlights: AdAge, Adweek, Campaign Live, It’s Nice That, Design Taxi and Mumbrella. *mentions.com and muckrack.com reports attached