During ABC’s Academy Awards broadcast on March 27, Snap will air its first-ever Oscars TV spot, honoring the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. The ad shows people using Snapchat’s augmented-reality Lenses to learn American Sign Language.
The ad (watch below) was inspired by the Oscar nominations for Apple Original Films’ “CODA” — the first motion picture starring a predominantly Deaf cast to receive a best picture nomination, and Troy Kotsur as the first Deaf male actor nominated in the supporting actor category — and the Oscar nod for Netflix’s “Audible,” which follows the journey of Maryland School for the Deaf high school athlete Amaree McKenstry-Hall, for documentary short subject.
The Snap spot shows people using the Snapchat app’s augmented-reality Lenses to learn how to fingerspell. Last year, Snapchat launched a series of Lenses that track hand movements to translate ASL into text.
Snap’s 30-second Oscars spot highlights how the hand-tracking tech can help build bridges between Deaf and hard-of-hearing and hearing communities. In addition, two 15-second spots will run on digital and social channels following the Oscars ceremony. (Disclosure: Snap also has taken out print ads for the campaign in Variety and the L.A. Times.)
Disney has sold out ad inventory for ABC’s 94th Academy Awards telecast, for which it was asking $1.7 million to $2.2 million per 30-second spot.
[UPDATE, 3/27: Snap ran two ads in the ABC Oscars broadcast: a 15-second spot that aired, as scheduled, following the award presentation for supporting actor — won by Troy Kotsur of “CODA,” the first male Deaf actor to receive an Oscars acting award — and the 30-second spot that ran in the break prior to the best picture announcement — also won by Apple’s “CODA,” which marked the first win in the category by a streaming service.]
The creative was conceived and produced by Snap’s internal creative team and shot by directed by Daniel Mercadante and Katina Mercadante of production firm Park Pictures; Katina can communicate using ASL.
To develop the ASL Lenses, Snap teamed with SignAll, which developed technology using AI and computer vision that recognizes and translates sign language. The fingerspelling Lenses showcased in the ad were developed by “Deafengers,” which was formed by Deaf team members at Snap to provide feedback and guidance to the company from their perspective.
The fingerspelling Snapchat Lenses featured in the ad are available to all users and can be accessed by searching “Fingerspell Username,” “Random Words” or “Randomizer Fingerspelling” in Lens Explorer.
Watch the Snap Oscars ad: