Wunderman Thompson uses AI to turn wartime letters into works of art

Who: True Patriot Love Foundation, with Wunderman Thompson, and GroupM for media.

What: “Remastered Memories,” a campaign that attempts to show Canadians what combat was like for veterans by turning their wartime letters home into realistic visual depictions of their experience using artificial intelligence.

When & Where: The campaign is live now for the week around Remembrance Day, with out-of-home billboards, in print and at the True Patriot Love website.

Why: As a charity that supports Canada’s veterans, True Patriot Love Foundation believes it’s essential that Canadians don’t forget just how much the 461,000 surviving veterans have given for their country. But many Canadians, particularly younger generations, don’t understand how much those veterans are affected by their service, said Nick Booth, chief executive officer, True Patriot Love, in a release.

“Many may be isolated or need our help,” he said. “Whether through mental or physical rehabilitation from injury; assistance with transitioning from military to civilian life, or simply connecting them to a wider community which understands their experiences.”

Wunderman Thompson wanted a new way to remind Canadians of those sacrifices while evoking empathy and gratitude.

How: Wunderman Thompson came up with what they call “real memories painted by artificial intelligence.” The agency worked with the AI image generator MidJourney, which takes the words from seven letters home to loved ones and turns them into visual representations.

The digitally created works of art were used for out-of-home and print ads, and are displayed at the True Patriot Love website.

“The artwork on the billboards reads ‘Keeping soldiers’ memories alive using A.I.’ and ‘Bringing soldiers’ letters to life using A.I.,’ said Ari Elkouby, chief creative officer at Wunderman Thompson Canada. “But the hope is Canadians will be taken by the imagery and visit the website, where the full story including the original letters can be seen and read.”

The next phase of the campaign will see letters from more recent military engagements, such as Afghanistan, 3D-printed on canvas and auctioned off with proceeds to True Patriot Foundation.

Why use AI to paint the pictures: “Using artificial intelligence allowed us to turn the author of the letter into the artist, removing any human interpretation other than their own,” explained Elkouby. “It’s the closest we could get to showing works of art that were created by the soldiers themselves, which we believe captures a more personal and authentic version of each memory.”

And we quote: This unique campaign creates powerful visual representations of real experiences, allowing us all to see what the world looked like through the eyes of someone who served.”—Nick Booth, chief executive officer, True Patriot Love

David Brown