Engine Creative brings innovation to the lost person poster using modern technology


Engine Creative has reimagined the missing person poster – rethinking the standard design and introducing a high-impact live portrait – for UK charity Missing People to coincide with International Missing Children’s Day.

The striking, high-tech digital posters show a ‘live’ image of the missing person appearing to move their eyes, smile and make facial expressions. They feature three people, Leah Croucher, Finn Layland-Stratfield and Alexander Sloley, who are currently missing in the UK.

The innovative posters, which feature photographs enhanced and animated by AI and machine learning, will go live on outdoor digital screens at Ocean Outdoor in London on May 25, International Missing Children’s Day.

A QR code is also embedded in the poster, allowing people to quickly and easily share the poster on their social networks, to amplify the impact.

The creation of the posters was informed by behavioral science which shows that people’s engagement with an image and memory for an image are enhanced by a larger, higher resolution photo, live image (instead of a static image), a smiling face (instead of a non-smiling one), and less accompanying information.

Increasing empathy among viewers of the missing person poster increases their commitment to that poster and, in turn, the likelihood that they will take positive action to help, according to behavioral science.

Jo Youle, Managing Director of Missing People, said: “70,000 children and young people go missing each year in the UK, and many more go unreported. Missing People is there for everyone involved, every day of the year.

When it is appropriate to report someone missing, our appeals are an extremely important way to reach the public, to help find children. By embracing innovation, we hope that the new calls will have an even greater impact and help to find those presented safely.

We are proud to bring together the public, media and businesses to make a unique difference for those affected in communities across the UK.

Claire Croucher, mother of Leah Croucher, added: “Our daughter Leah was nineteen when she disappeared. One of the many challenges as a parent of a missing person is trying to communicate who you have lost. We believe that if the public understands who our daughter is, they are more likely to remember seeing or meeting her.

To see Leah’s face moving and smiling in these stunning new posters is wonderful and gives us new hope that Leah – and other missing people like her – will be reunited with their families.

To further the impact of messaging, Engine also worked with behavioral science experts at Influence Work, a team led by CEO Steve Martin and Anita Braga. This led to improvements, including replacing the standard “Missing Person” title with the more action-oriented “Help to Find” title.

Engine Creative has created a simple online tool that Missing People can now use to automatically create a live portrait poster when someone goes missing, with just a few clicks.

Steve Hawthorne, Creative Director at Engine, commented: “Since the ‘Missing’ posters were created, they’ve never really changed. Whether it’s a person or a pet, the basic formula has always remained the same. But in that time, our understanding of people and the technology at our disposal has evolved. So we wanted to take a fresh look at the “Missing” posters to see how we could make them more effective. With the help of an amazing array of partners, we hope we’ve done just that.

The photos used on the posters were first enhanced by Engine Creative in collaboration with Untold Studios using machine learning software, then animated using pioneering AI technology developed by D- ID, a global leader in AI-powered creative media, to bring still images to life. A combination of GFPGAN Face Restoration and Gigapixel AI allowed teams to significantly improve the sharpness of photos.

The Engine initiative won second prize in the charity category of Ocean Outdoor’s annual digital creative competition, receiving £75,000 worth of free media.

Helen Haines, Marketing and Events Manager at Ocean, said: ‘The multi-layered strategy to help raise the profile of this charity and its work has really made this winning idea stand out.’

The posters will appear on Ocean Outdoor’s high-tech DOOH screens in Westfield London, Canary Wharf and Westfield Stratford City, with media donated through the Digital Creative competition.

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