In 2018 we won a competition for LGBTQ+ inclusive advertising, Pride Brand Makeover, run by Pride AM and supported Gay Times, YouTube and Creativebrief. We decided to donate the £165k media prize to Mermaids UK, to positively represent trans stories and counteract the negative media storms affecting trans youth charities and the people they support.
The film, ETHAN, launched in September 2019 and already has 280,000 views on YouTube. Gay Times also featured a double page spread in their 500th magazine issue and shared the film on their social media. They also published an interview with Ethan and his family, How Mermaids became a lifeline to one family and their trans teen, on their website.
The 2 minute film uses an arcade game to visualise Ethan’s journey; with bullies and the struggles of coming out becoming antagonists and hurdles to overcome within the game. The game takes you through three stylised levels, each representing a different milestone or turning point in Ethan’s journey. Through live action and animation, it tells a powerful, emotive story, highlighting Ethan as just like any other 18 year old. Tom Fuller, Art Director at Raw London, explains; “We all play video games so, while it’s bespoke to Ethan’s story, it’s designed to be familiar in a way that everybody can relate to.”.
With the huge level of exposure due to come with the media prize, ensuring that the storytelling was as true to a transgender experience as possible was essential, so we worked closely with Ethan to develop his story into a moving script that accurately reflects his experience.
Andy West, Communications Manager at Mermaids UK, who created the behind the scenes video of the shoot below, said; “It was great to give a service user a chance to tell their story in their own words. It’s important for people to understand that journeys like Ethan’s are stories of empowerment as well as struggle.”
James Page, Producer at Raw London, added; “The Pride Brand Makeover challenged agencies to improve LGBTQ+ representation in the creative industry and media as a whole. Transgender issues are often sadly overlooked or, worse, under fire in the media, so we wanted to leverage our prize to give a transgender individual a platform. We chose to support Mermaids UK who, as a small charity supporting trans youth, often receive media attention for all the wrong reasons. This film and the substantial prize gives them a huge opportunity to tell their side of the story and, hopefully, increase general understanding of the issue.”