Young footballer Kiyan Prince brought back to AI life in moving Engine/EA Sports campaign

This has had a lot of publicity already (deservedly) but it’s impossible to ignore.

EA Sports FIFA 21 and Engine Creative have brought Kiyan Prince – a football prodigy who was killed aged 15 – back as a virtual professional footballer at his club QPR to raise awareness of knife crime.

‘Long Live the Prince’ was created pro-bono by Engine Creative. All proceeds raised go directly to Kiyan Prince Foundation, the charity run by Kiyan’s father Dr Mark Prince who features in the campaign.

Kiyan is given the squad number 30 to reflect the age he would be today and introduced as a playable character in FIFA 21. Match Attax is issuing a Kiyan Prince playing card and major brands including Adidas are sponsoring him.

Mark Prince says: “I want my son to be remembered not for the tragedy of his death but for the triumph of his achievements. Through this campaign, the world finally gets to glimpse Kiyan’s incredible potential fulfilled. And hopefully we can inspire other kids to be the best version of themselves too.”

With input from the Prince family and help from Professor Hassan Ugail at the University of Bradford, cutting edge ageing-projection software was used to create a scientifically accurate image of how the young man would look today. The image was then developed by Framestore and photoreal artist Chris Scalf to create the likenesses seen in the campaign. Framestore brought this to life with AI technology, partnering with ELC.

Engine CCO Billy Faithfull says: “This isn’t a story about death, it’s a story about life. An ambitious, hardworking, talented boy and the man he could have become. The kind of man he can inspire boys to be. The younger and more marginalised an audience are, the harder they are to reach, so our starting point was to think about how to connect Kiyan’s powerful story with kids who are virtually immune to traditional knife-crime advertising.

“Getting to them through gaming, influence networks and sponsorship felt like a unique and effective medium to speak to them and help The Kiyan Prince Foundation continue its vital work.”

Better make some space for all the awards. Magnificent all round.

MAA creative scale: 9.5.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.