Parkland Sufferer’s Mother and father Digitally Recreate Their Son’s Likeness for Gun Management PSA
More than two years after 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver was killed along with 16 of his classmates in a school shooting that shocked the nation, his parents digitally restored his likeness to deliver a powerful closing message.
In a new campaign for Change the Ref, a gun safety nonprofit organization founded by Oliver’s parents, a lifelike virtual avatar of the Parkland Massacre victim calls on viewers to vote for politicians who promise to support gun control measures.
When creating the PSA, titled “Unfinished Votes,” McCann Health used the same generative artificial intelligence technology behind deep fakes to mimic the teen’s voice and create a CGI-like representation from a single photo.
“We found a way to bring someone back that nobody will ignore,” said Joaquin’s father Manuel Oliver in the video.
“It’s very difficult for me to look at that,” said his mother, Patricia Oliver. “So please, please listen to what our son has to say.”
Manuel and Patricia Oliver founded Change the Ref after the February 2018 mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with the aim of giving young people the tools they need to make changes in gun control. The shooting in Parkland, Florida sparked a full national conversation about the proliferation of arms in America by youth survivors of the violence.
Two years later, digitally recreated Oliver laments the lack of progress that has been made on the subject since then.
“I’ve been gone for two years and nothing has changed, brother,” says Joaquin’s similarity in the video. “People are still being killed by guns – what is it?”
McCann Health’s creatives behind the campaign said they were moved by the fact that this would have been the first presidential election that Joaquin could have voted.
“The more we learned about Joaquin, the more we realized he was going to be the most powerful voice we could win,” said a McCann spokesman on behalf of the creative team. “He was very motivated to change something. Just like the 40,000 other people killed by guns each year, Joaquin would never get a chance to influence the one problem that might have kept her alive. ”
While deepfake techniques such as the one used in video are still most widely discussed for their potential for fake news and other nefarious uses, the technology has become increasingly popular as a promotional tool – even for making political statements. Another election campaign by the RepresentUs constituency earlier this week used the fakes of Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Un to deliver dire warnings of the end of democracy.