Back in April 2020, Three UK became the primary shirt sponsor for Chelsea Football Club. There was just one problem: COVID disrupted supply lines meant there was no shirt. Our brief was to execute a kit launch without a kit.
99% of football jerseys are worn by fans. But 99% of the time they are launched by players. Three's mission is to connect the game and bring fans closer than ever to Chelsea, so we thought it was high time the fans took centre stage.
We created The Virtual Kit, an AR kit that was distributed to fans via a WhatsApp bot – turning the home of football conversation into a virtual changing room.
Working with the wizards at Nexus Studios, we 3D-modelled the virtual kit in painstaking detail to ensure the texture, fit and stitching were accurate and faithful to Nike’s shirt design.
Using TensorFlow machine learning technology, we developed a custom solution to recognise human forms in users’ photos and detect their body position in 3D. Additional algorithms processed each image multiple times to refine the fit, grade the colour to match the original, and to learn and improve the accuracy of the results as it went on. The system also used AI and human moderation to detect and prevent any potential abuse of the system.
All of this happened within moments of an image being sent via Whatsapp, allowing an intuitive user experience designed to maximise engagement and connect with fans in an authentic way.
Resulting in more than 15,000 fans virtually trying on the jersey in the first few days, and going on to reach more than 27,000,000 fans.
Making this Chelsea's most successful jersey launch ever, and the only one to do it without a jersey.
Executive Creative Director: Rory Hamilton
Senior Art Director: Jake O'Driscoll
Senior Copywriter: Avril Delaney
Created by Boys+Girls, in collaboration with Nexus Studios.
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