Case Study: How VICE Media's The Unfiltered History Tour garnered 18mn impressions

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Spikes Asia Case Study The Unfiltered History Tour

The Unfiltered History Tour initiative for VICE Media has won a total of 4 Grand Prix, 5 Gold, 4 Silver & 5 Bronze. The special edition of Spikes Asia Case Study understands how this campaign was executed on the ground level, resulting in 18 mn campaign impressions.

The Spikes Asia Case Study for The Unfiltered History Tour by Vice Media understands how the campaign came into being.

Category Introduction

The British Museum is the world’s largest receiver of stolen goods with over 8 million objects - that is a lot of looted artefacts. For centuries, we have only heard the imperialist version of how they got there. An equitable environment can only be created when silenced voices express the intergenerational trauma caused by colonial loot.

Brand Introduction

‘The Unfiltered History Tour’ has been developed by Dentsu Webchutney, in association with Vice World News. The campaign offers insights into the history of 10 iconic items on display in the British Museum via an interactive mobile site and a 10-episode podcast series featuring experts from the homelands of these objects.

The Spikes Asia Case Study of The Unfiltered History Tour shows that the objective of the campaign was to bring everyone’s attention to the imperialist attitudes that drove the initial looting and how it persists even today, in assertions that these objects are better off being protected and explained by the Western institutions. It is implied that the people from whose cultures these objects were stolen are not capable of properly handling & taking care of them or interpreting their importance in history.

Spikes Asia Case Study The Unfiltered History Tour - Summary

The Unfiltered History Tour is an unofficial, interactive tour of the British Museum’s disputed artefacts. Narrated by people from the countries from which they were taken, through immersive audio-visual storytelling enabled by Instagram AR filters. The visitors to the museum could use this unofficial guide through a website or via VICE World News’ Instagram handle.

Problem Statement/Objective

1. Give a platform to the underrepresented minority voices and share the accounts of artefacts that belong to their country.

2. Re-ignite the ongoing conversation on repatriation and postcolonialism on social media, with VICE championing marginalised voices.

3. Educate young people about the untold side of history using a tool as accessible as Instagram filters to tell unfiltered stories.


Between Dentsu Webchutney and Vice World News, the campaign is a result of sheer passion and hence, there was no brief for the project. However, the aim was to place VICE World News at the forefront of conversations around colonialism and challenge dominant cultures by initiating dialogues with several countries around the world & creating a balance in the way history has been told.

Creative Idea

The Unfiltered History Tour is a guerrilla tour of the British Museum’s disputed artefacts, carried out via Instagram filters by making use of Augmented Reality. However, instead of adding dog ears to a selfie, the same technology was re-engineered to scan and identify life-sized 3D artefacts in differing light conditions throughout the day to showcase the visual depictions of scenes of colonial crime. 

Also Read: Spikes Asia Case Study: How the Stayfree Daughter’s Day campaign reached 19.7 mn users


The Instagram filters faced multiple rounds of rejection by the Spark AR team for being ‘shocking, sensational, excessively violent’ and for the depiction of ‘guns, knives and other weapons as seen in the illustrations. After nearly 20 iterations of the designs, the Instagram filters were approved and ready to deploy at the Museum.

The Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, set up by the Mayor of London, is in talks to further expand the Unfiltered History Tour to cover more disputed artefacts both within the British Museum and other prominent Museums in London.


The agency began by creating Instagram Filters that could scan 10 heavily disputed artefacts on display at the Museum. From Egyptologists to the seventh descendant of the Gweagal Shield, to the Governor of Rapa Nui – the top 10 experts played tour guides in narrating the true histories of artefacts from their homelands. Those who weren’t at the Museum could unfilter history with immersive audio-video experiences and extended podcasts detailing the stories of the colonial crime, hosted on the Unfiltered History Tour website and all major audio platforms.

The Instagram filters were developed by a strong team of 100 people working remotely for 18 months across 10 time zones. A local team in London gathered data using LiDAR technology (Light Detection and Ranging), initially developed for military usage. AR technicians accounted for changing light conditions inside the museum, by developing an Instagram filter based on real-time weather to dynamically adapt to the changing environment at the museum, through a first of its kind Instagram Filter that blends the satellite data with Augmented Reality.


Launched in December 2021, ‘The Unfiltered History’ tour has seen an overwhelming response, with coverage from publications such as The Guardian, BBC, The Drum, Hyperallergic, Spotify Podcasts and British Committee, to name a few, helping it reach the British public.

Key opinion-formers on the issue of reparation such as Indian Member of Parliament and celebrated author, Shashi Tharoor and Marc Fennell, Australian film critic, award-winning journalist and the host of the popular ‘Stuff British Stole’, have endorsed the campaign on their social media.

The multicultural campaign has elicited an overwhelming response from the youth across the globe. They have called the campaign “a clever and a brilliant way of teaching historical reality,” “a much-needed resource,” and “a must to see the extent of the loot.” The campaign has created ripples on TikTok and Instagram, yielding an outpour of emotion from young Britons who also believe the artefacts should be returned.

In its first month, the campaign has seen the following:

  • 18 million campaign impressions on promo content
  • 55,000 website visits
  • 31,000 podcast downloads
  • 10,500 filter uses
  • 2 million earned video views on TikTok

CMO Quotes

John Montoya, Senior Director, Audience & Content Strategy, VICE Media Group said, “The Unfiltered History Tour is an important teaching tool for our audience: we want to continue to educate them on the historic and modern inequalities that have been woven into our everyday lives, using technology and social media to unlock a fuller experience. There is still so much to unpack about colonialism in Britain today: we hope that this project can play a part in furthering this.”

Gurbaksh Singh, Chief Innovation Officer, Dentsu Creative India, said, "Using technology to narrate a story, which is set out to touch the lives of millions of people like ourselves and has the power to instil change in the world, is an overwhelming yet satisfying experience.”

Editor’s Note

Awards & accolades such as Spikes Asia have often played an integral role, in bringing some of the most intriguing and impactful campaigns from around the world, to the front. While as an industry, we have a certain idea of which were some of the most amazing campaigns, there is often a knowledge gap as to how did these campaigns come into existence? What went behind making the campaign? What were the steps taken to execute and eventually distribute it?

Spikes Asia Case Studies is a small attempt by Social Samosa, towards understanding what goes behind making a winning campaign? First in our series is Stayfree’s It’s Just A Period, which won a Silver at Spikes Asia 2022. Watch this space as we add the case studies to more campaigns from India that won big at the awards.

-Saloni Surti