IMMORTALS

Short List
ClientSBERBANK
Category I04. Social Behaviour & Cultural Insight
TitleIMMORTALS
Product/ServiceFINANCIAL SERVICES
Entrant GOOD Moscow, RUSSIA
Idea Creation GOOD Moscow, RUSSIA
Media Placement DENTSU X Moscow, RUSSIA
Production GOOD Moscow, RUSSIA
Credits
Name Company Position
Grisha Sorokin GOOD Chief Creative Officer
Polina Zabrodskaya GOOD Creative Director

Background

Russia is home to over 160 nationalities. But their cultures, their languages, their voices don't get equal representation in the media. Urbanization of the past decades had a detrimental effect on the local cultures, especially those of smaller ancient tribes. Young people consider the languages of their ancestors less useful and less prestigious. Films, songs, books, YouTube channels, websites, etc. mostly speak Russian. Word of mouth transmission from parents to children has stopped. This process is not unique to Russia, indigenous languages are disappearing all over the world. Sberbank is the biggest bank of Russia, its goal is to preserve and multiply the wealth of Russian people: both financial and cultural. Indigenous languages are an essential part of that wealth.

Describe the strategy

Sberbank is the biggest and the most technologically advanced bank of Russia, with thousands of branches in the most remote places. Banks of this size have enormous technological power that serves to generate and preserve financial wealth. Sberbank believes that technology must preserve and multiply both cultural and financial wealth of Russian people. This project used the bank's vast resources to preserve the endangered languages of Russia that would otherwise disappear without any trace in the next 50 years.

Describe the execution

This project took over two years in the making. We went to remote villages of Russia and recorded hundreds of hours of natives talking. A specially built AI analyzed this linguistic material to reveal the general patterns and logic of the language. Learning algorithms expanded the lexicon based on statistical translation approach. Once the correspondence system between Russian and the endangered language was created, the language was fully preserved within the AI and could be learned by anyone who speaks Russian in the future. That’s how Immortals appeared. On the 4th of November 2019, National Unity Day, Russia met the Immortals. A 1,5 min film has introduced the project during the news program on Russia's main channel. Russians could interact with the Immortals online and discover the unique worlds of Nganasans, Ingrians, and Ulchi.

List the results

Paid media has reached 35 million people. Social media, press, TV shows and news added 70 million people. The country kept talking about the disappearing languages for 9 weeks. Further funding was secured for several years to come. Rare specialized linguists have reached out to help teach the Immortals other disappearing languages. The core of the AI can be now used to save all 98 endangered languages. There’re hundreds of disappearing languages around the world. This AI can be used to preserve all of them.

Please tell us about the social behaviour and / or cultural insights that inspired your campaign

According to UNESCO, 98 indigenous languages in Russia will disappear in the next 50 years. Most of them will leave no written literature behind. The majority of Russians didn't know these languages existed. Urbanization of the past decades had a detrimental effect on indigenous Russian cultures, especially those of smaller ancient tribes. Young people consider the languages of their ancestors less useful and prestigious. Films, songs, books, YouTube channels, websites, etc. mostly speak Russian. Word of mouth transmission from parents to children has stopped. This project found a way to preserve the disappearing languages, allowed Russians to interact with them for the first time, and started a meaningful conversation on the cultural diversity of the country's national heritage.