Cannes Lions is an advertising festival that takes place after the Cannes film festival, celebrating all the things ad agencies do, which normally wouldn’t interest me, but for this write-up about the “Sweetie” campaign. Lemz, an ad agency in Amsterdam, teaming with a children’s rights organization, used 3-D animation to create an entirely computer-generated 10-year-old girl Filipino girl (“Sweetie”) convincing enough to snare 1,000 sexual predators in an online sting operation aimed at webcam sex tourism. They made a short documentary about the project, shot by Dutch documentarian Peter Tetteroo, which you can see above.
From the write up on Fast Company:
Our art directors worked with the master artists and animators at Motek Entertainment and Brekel 3D. I can’t speak highly enough about the skill and dedication of those guys who were working long after normal working hours to develop and perfect Sweetie. We came to them with the almost impossible task of creating a 3-D child that looks and moves so realistically that 1,000 adults around the world would not question her authenticity. And they absolutely delivered.
I can’t believe Andy Serkis didn’t get the call. If Sweetie was realistic enough to catch 1,000 adults, imagine how realistic she would’ve been with Andy Serkis portraying her. Probably would’ve caught 1,000,000 predators. He’s that good.
Four of us spent eight to 10 hours a day, five days a week, for 10 weeks on chat rooms, using Sweetie as a disguise with which we interacted with online predators and collected their names, locations, and webcam video footage of them until we had finally identified 1,000 of them–999 men and one woman–living in 71 countries.
CGI humans creep me out on a good day, you add third world baby talk and soliciting underage sex to the mix and you’ve got yourself a video I can’t tolerate for more than 10 seconds. I honestly had to mute it in order to get a screen cap. Seriously, that thing is worse than water boarding. Force me to watch that video and I’d sell out my entire family before you even had a chance to ask a question. By the way, it’s a good thing sex offenders are stupid, that thing’s about as convincing as Chuck E. Cheese.
My hope, however, is that this campaign has also shown people in all creative industries, including advertising, that the world needs their skills and gifts to solve real global problems. Creativity is the key to progress and progress is desperately needed to get humanity out of the muck that we find ourselves in these days.
Damn it. I’m torn between wanting to highlight someone’s brilliant idea to catch sex offenders, and not wanting to give ad people fodder to continue believing that their ads are “making the world a better place.” We’re going to need at least three more Sweeties just to make up for Geico’s unavoidable toxic waste spew. I THINK WE ALL KNOW ABOUT GEICO BY NOW, YOU PIECES OF SHIT.