Microsoft enabled injured and disabled veterans to create a musical anthem for the Invictus Games in the brand's latest effort to adapt its technology for social purpose.
The brand and agency McCann London invited a group of wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to play instruments that they would otherwise be unable to play. Working in collaboration with Microsoft’s Hands-Free Technology Lab in San Francisco, the project team adapted existing tech and created bespoke solutions to suit the varied abilities of the participants.
Using tech that included Xbox adaptive controllers and Gaze eye-tracking technology, the team assembled an orchestra of instruments that could be played with limited hand mobility or even eye movement, restoring skills to the veterans that had previously been taken away by their injuries. The musicians were backed by the Invictus Games Choir, and the anthem aired at the medal ceremonies of the Invictus Games at The Hague in late April. The Invictus Games are a sporting event for members of the military who have undergone life-changing injuries while in service.
McCann agency Momentum negotiated the partneship with Microsoft and the Invictus Games, and delivered the musical direction and creative technology in partnership with Microsoft to create the anthem and enable veteran participation.
A short film documenting the project shows how two of the service people involved, Private Karl Hinett and Lance Corporal Emma Lumb, were able to participate despite their injuries. McCann London is also working with McCann New York on extending the campaign to include a full website experience that will dive deeper into how Microsoft accessible technologies helped Hinett and Lumb to recapture their love for music.
“It’s only fitting that such an inclusive, inspirational organisation as The Invictus Games gets an anthem that lives and breathes those values," said Sanjiv Mistry, executive creative director, McCann London, in a statement. "To help make this happen, it needed not just cutting-edge tech, but some incredible people at the heart of it. From the moment Karl and Emma came forward they’ve shown nothing but bravery, openness and enthusiasm to be involved in such a landmark creation.”
The initiative follows campaigns such as Microsoft's development of its Adaptive Controller for disabled games, which featured in emotive Super Bowl ad in 2019 and subsequently won a Cannes Grand Prix.