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Engine Creative, Framestore and JD Sports come together with Dr Mark Prince of the Kiyan Prince Foundation to discuss how creativity can change the narrative.
Creativity has the power to change the narrative. On the 18th May 2006, Kiyan Prince was murdered by a fellow student outside the gates of his school whilst trying to break up a fight. He was just 15-years-old. On the 15h anniversary of his death a campaign for the Kiyan Prince Foundation (KPF), by Engine Creative reimagined his legacy virtually in EA Sport’ video game franchise FIFA 21, thanks to the incredible creativity and commitment of Framestore.
The groundbreaking campaign redefined the way that knife crime is addressed in advertising and saw Kiyan Prince brought to life on the iconic Piccadilly Circus digital billboard in an advert for JD Sports.
In a hard-hitting, inspirational masterclass, Nicola Kemp, Editorial Director at Creativebrief spoke with Kiyan’s father, Dr Mark Prince OBE, and a panel of expert creatives; Katie Farmer, Head of Production at ENGINE, Karl Woolley, Global Realtime Director at Framestore, Richard Nott, Creative Director at ENGINE and Nadia Kokni, Global Group Marketing - CMO, JD Sports; who are working to amplify the lasting legacy of The Kiyan Prince Foundation. The panel discussed what brands can do to help support that legacy and explored how creativity truly has the power to make a profound impact on the lives of young people.
To start the session, Dr Mark Prince OBE outlined the reasons why he started The Kiyan Prince Foundation; a not-for-profit charity focused on empowering and inspiring young people to use their potential and passion to become the great individuals they believe they can be. Through a 12-week program, the foundation is able to build long-lasting connections with young people which is essential to their success. “Creating relationships is at the very core of making change,” says Prince, who aims to give young people the “blueprint for success” so they are prepared for the world ahead of them.
The FIFA campaign has seen the charity go global, touching the lives of young people who have seen Kiyan in the FIFA game and gone on to search for the foundation. Exposure has been crucial for the foundation that has now gone ‘global’ says Prince, people all over the world are recognising the brand and organisations have been able to get in touch. The goal was to reach as many people as possible and this campaign has managed to achieve that for the foundation.
The creativity of the campaign aligns perfectly with the values of positivity and possibility which the foundation is all about. This was no easy feat, as Nott explained “the campaign took shape over the course of two years”, developing and changing over time. The initial inspiration was in this idea of possibility and where Kiyan might have been had he been allowed to reach his potential. “Being in FIFA is part and parcel of being a footballer and FIFA is exactly where we find our audience. These days young people are more engaged with gaming than they are with traditional TV ad slots.” The impact of the campaign can be largely attributed to the creativity of the medium; placing Kiyan into FIFA was the perfect place to inspire young people and rang true to Kiyan’s own ambitions making it the perfect marriage.
Bringing Kiyan to life and realising his legacy was an ambitious brief and a huge responsibility. “Once EA gave the go-ahead, dropping Kiyan into the game became a reality,” says Woolley “the pressure was immense. We’ve created digital humans for years but this was the biggest test for us, we didn’t want to let anybody down” and, only after the campaign did they realise how many people it would affect. “This has never been done before; putting a non-playing player into FIFA is a world first” , says Wooley. There was no way of following FIFA’s usual player-scanning processes, the team had to think creatively and work tirelessly on creating a likeness that would make the family proud and do justice to Kiyan.
The campaign has many layers, technology such as CGI and deep-fakes are able to bring Kiyan to life and equally, there is a largely human element that serves to connect people with Kiyan and his story. The iconic Piccadilly Lights JD sports ad was a huge element of the campaign, Kokni explained that “JD is interwoven with the fabric of youth culture; Kiyan was a young amazing guy with loads of talent and potential. Had he been allowed to reach the prime of his sporting career, JD represents all of those sporting icons. To really validate and deliver an authentic message it made so much sense for us to support this''. The Piccadilly Lights was an iconic spot that could maximise the amplification of the message and JD was the perfect brand partner as its true to the way the brand operates.
We were incredibly fortunate that everyone we approached could see the value of what we were trying to do and the power in Kiyans story. Partnership and relationships are key to succeeding in any project; we talk so passionately about this because we’ve become extremely close and share the same valuesKatie Farmer, Head of Production at ENGINE
The scope and ambition of the project was huge, to turn the idea into reality Farmer tells the panel, “we asked everyone we knew if they would get on board.” The campaign was hugely ambitious but the agency’s existing connections were willing to get involved and contribute to such a worthy cause. With little funding and resources, ENGINE knew it was essential that every penny earned went back into the foundation. Farmer explained that it was challenging to get partners on board for free, they were up against the times with Covid as everything needed to be done remotely and it was something that had never been done before in FIFA. On top of this the scale of the campaign was also extremely intimidating, the team took on a huge amount of responsibility; many of the team were parents and the emotional gravitas was hard to take on. The importance of the message and Mark’s inspiring nature overrode all of the many challenges and spurred on the team to pull in favours, dedicate time and deliver on the campaign.
Prince would like Kiyan to be remembered “not for the tragedy of his death but for the triumph of his achievements”. At present he has two key goals for KPF; to tour London schools and reach 100,000 young people and to create a centre where young people know there’s a hub to get support. For going into these schools the campaign has been pivotal for engaging young people. “When I say who plays FIFA and mention QPR, Kiyan Prince, eyes light up; they realise they are about to hear the story.” says Prince, “then I’m able to talk about his character as well as his potential, then my message really sinks in on another level”. The young people connect with FIFA on another level and its backing shows that big brands care about issues that are important to them. The campaign shows KPF doing something groundbreaking, they see themselves in Kiyan and feel supported by brands that they usually feel a disconnect from. Prince says that the young people get excited by the foundation and the campaign more than ever now, “they see the validity of the brand and are intrigued; a big brand they love and look up to is linked to an issue that troubles them on a daily basis.“
Brands have the opportunity to support important issues and make a real impact on society. Kids know and recognise brands, particularly sporting and streetwear brands they enjoy and look up to. For this reason, Nott explained, “we wanted brands to be a part of the narrative, the story we are telling, not just partners.” Brands are heavily engaged with football and would have been a huge part of Kiyan’s story as a professional. The brands that were willing to get involved and use Kiyan as an ambassador were a huge asset in solidifying the validity of the campaign and extending reach. “We couldn’t have had a better response from Match Attack or JD” says Nott, ”they offered uncomplicated support and helped bring everything together.”
For Kokni and JD, the risk associated with the campaign paled in comparison to the importance of the message. Kokni explained that “the most important thing is to be true and authentic to who you are as a brand, JD is interwoven with youth culture and therefore the welfare of young people is important to us.” The partnership between JD and KFP made complete sense. For brands, it’s essential to get involved with causes they know well and have something to contribute to.
now people are understanding that our leaders haven’t stepped up or put anything in place to put young people, the leaders of tomorrow, first. It’s a great opportunity for brands and corporations to step in and take up the opportunity to show that they care. There are organisations like us that can’t wait to work with brands who will help us to do the work that the government hasn't doneDr Mark Prince OBE
Working collaboratively is key to amplifying a message and this requires shared values and shared purpose. Farmer says that they “ were incredibly fortunate that everyone we approached could see the value of what we were trying to do and the power in Kiyans story. Partnership and relationships are key to succeeding in any project; we talk so passionately about this because we’ve become extremely close and share the same values.” The brands all worked seamlessly with one another and egos were left at the door as everyone championed the success of the campaign. Sharing the same values means that people truly care and will work tirelessly (in this case for free) for the success of the campaign.
The creative industry is able to support and show that they care via campaigns such as this. Prince explained that “now people are understanding that our leaders haven’t stepped up or put anything in place to put young people, the leaders of tomorrow, first. It’s a great opportunity for brands and corporations to step in and take up the opportunity to show that they care. There are organisations like us that can’t wait to work with brands who will help us to do the work that the government hasn't done.” KPF like many other charitable causes aren’t looking to accumulate wealth, awareness is more helpful to improve the lives of young people and this is what brands are able to provide help with. Brands need to look at what they can offer because charities are in need of help across every area be it marketing, promotion, digital support or sales. Resource is the greatest aid that will help elevate worthy voices and agencies and brands must think creatively about the best way they can get involved.
The KPF campaign is groundbreaking and has a long-lasting effect on audiences. For those involved, the pure intentions of the project saw involvement from brands that would have otherwise been unheard of and the project was a career-defining moment for the panellists who were all extremely invested in the cause. The creatives were able to overcome all the challenges they were met with by working in collaboration with experts willing to share their skills. Shared values and goals meant that the team were inspired to strive to make the impossible possible because of how great they knew the impact could be. The wider creative industry boasts a range of skills across the board and the success of the KPF campaign shows the immense impact that can be had if those skills are put to good use. Creativity has the power to change the narrative, amplify the voices of others and make a lasting impact on society should the industry put purpose at the heart of what they do and be willing to use what they have to strive for better.
To get involved or donate to KPF please click here.
To watch the full event please click here.
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