ADLaM: An Alphabet to Preserve a Culture - Typeface (Fulani Alphabet) - Microsoft JPG
ADLaM: An Alphabet to Preserve a Culture - Typeface (Fulani Alphabet) - Microsoft JPG
ADLaM: An Alphabet to Preserve a Culture - Typeface (Fulani Alphabet) - Microsoft MP4 2m:06s

ADLaM: An Alphabet to Preserve a Culture - Microsoft
Typeface (Fulani Alphabet)

ADLaM: An Alphabet to Preserve a Culture - Microsoft - Typeface (Fulani Alphabet)


Title: ADLaM: An Alphabet to Preserve a Culture
Brand: Microsoft
Product/Service: Typeface (Fulani Alphabet)
Client: Microsoft
Entrant Company: McCann NY
Agency: McCann NY
Production Company: Craft Worldwide & Spirit McCann
Editing Company: Craft Worldwide
Sound Company: Human Music
Creative Director: Pete Johnson
Release Date: 2023-04-17
Duration: 02:06
Individual Credits: Chris Capossela, Chief Marketing Officer, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Kathleen Hall, Chief Brand Officer, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Carol Phillips Hutchinson, General Manager, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Steve Simmons, Director, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Hannah Westing, Sr. Comms Manager, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Lori Gross, General Manager, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Sven Seger, Global Creative Director, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Phyllis Murphy, Sr. Creative Director, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Steve Foyle, Creative Director, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Karina Reck, Director, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Shyla Lindsey, Sr. Designer, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Aleksey Fedorov, Director, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Krystofer Glover, Director, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Kaity Butcher, Producer, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Steve Wiens, Strategist, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Steve Wiens, Strategist
Individual Credits: Andrew Glass, Principal Product Manager, Microsoft
Individual Credits: Sean Bryan – Chief Creative Officer, North America (WG), McCann NY
Individual Credits: Shayne Millington – Chief Creative Officer (NY), McCann NY
Individual Credits: Pierre Lipton – Chief Creative Officer, McCann NY
Notes for Judging: Imagine you couldn't write this entry. Or even write anything at all.
That was the reality for the 60 million Fulani people spread across West Africa. Not because they didn't have a language. But because they didn't have an alphabet or writing system.

The risk was that their culture would be swallowed by one that could operate in a digital world.
Without an alphabet, illiteracy thrived. Written records, poems, songs and stories were either cobbled together using foreign alphabets of their former colonizers or disappeared over time. As access to digital technology grew, adoption of foreign alphabets became inevitable.

For the Fulani, the ADLaM alphabet wasn’t just a tool for expression, but an operating system for survival.
The importance of the ADLaM alphabet to this community was to preserve their history, culture and language in their native tongue. Microsoft’s mission was to enable that preservation and ensure they could thrive in a digital world.

For Microsoft, inclusion is truly a business imperative.
Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization around the world to achieve more. In this case, Microsoft’s mission was to ensure the Fulani people had access to digital ecosystems – to preserve their language and culture – but also to have a future in the digital economy in one of the fastest growing regions of the world.

We formed a multifaceted community partnership to revise the alphabet.
Alphabets typically take hundreds of years to evolve into their final form. After speaking with the Barry brothers, the co-creators of the alphabet, and the larger community, we understood that there were adoption issues with an earlier digital version of the alphabet because the alphabet was changing in the hands of the people. Major revisions were needed.

Our community-first design philosophy: “Nothing about us. Without us.” In other words, you need to work with communities when designing for communities. We very much listened to the community and worked with them.

We then designed the alphabet to fully reflects Fulani culture
With the help of the Barry brothers, typeface experts and Fulani graphic culture specialists, we used real-time community feedback to rapidly revise outdated letterforms to create a new and optimized version.

Once letterforms took shape, we looked to take inspiration from rich Fulani visual culture. We researched hundreds of traditional khasas (blankets), arkillas (bed-screens), facial tattoos and decorative objects with unique patterned designs with historical and cultural significance. With guidance from the community, we ultimately incorporated the design “Kore Totte” (inverted calabashes) as a motif that resonated the most with the Fulani community.

We thus brought the community into the creative development ensuring the design itself represented not only how the alphabet evolved, but also to make the typeface a cultural artifact in its own right.

Our own products were our most meaningful media channel.
We launched on over 1 billion devices around the world. Microsoft offered permanent global access to an alphabet – not an ad campaign – a true transformative commitment for the Fulani people.

An open source alphabet shared with Google to drive access beyond our channels. Microsoft shared the ADLaM Display typeface with Google, who made it available on their Google Fonts platform.

Educational materials were developed to teach and preserve ADLaM.
Working with the brothers, we created and distributed books to learn to read and write the alphabet in ADLaM schools to move from the chalkboard to the books and computers.

The results have been tremendous

We set out to expand access. And we achieved that.
We launched ADLaM Display on 1 billion devices running our most popular applications
We made it open source for the world to access
We shared it with Google - it was ingested into Google Fonts with the typeface being used over 2.18 million times (April 14, 2023) - a +1300% increase in usage over the older typeface.

We set out to expand usage. And we achieved that.
Over 30,000 new students started learning ADLaM in the first four months of launching
New Schools Opened in 5 Countries in 2023-2024 across Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire and The Gambia.
New Online Classes and Classes in America have also taken hold at incredible speed

We set out to create local recognition to grow ADLaM at scale. And we achieved that at a speed that caught us all by surprise
Guinea made ADLaM part of it’s Sustainable Development Goals - pledging to teach it to millions students in the next 5 years
Mali started the process of adding ADLaM as an official alphabet of the nation - unlocking the opportunity to teach ADLaM in government schools

We are truly astounded by the momentum grown in just over one year, helping these two Brothers impact their community and preserve their culture for generations to come.
Additional Credits: Cristina Reina – EVP, Global Executive Creative Director & Head of Art NA
Pete Johnson – EVP, Global Executive Creative Director
Christiano Abrahao – Group Creative Director
Luke Flynn – Group Creative Director
Guilherme Racz – GCD Art Director
Lucas Casao – GCD Copywriter
Mikey Bready – Sr. Art Director
Sarah Wagner – Sr. Copywriter
Kazuo Kubo – ACD Art Director
Lucas Ribeiro – ACD Copywriter
Matt van Leeuwen - EVP Head of Design
Mook Phoungbut – Design Director
Chocho Han – Designer
Malik Dupree – Designer
Alicia Foor – Senior Creative Technologist
Amber Guild – CEO, McCann NY
Kevin Nelson – Managing Director
Socrates Papazoglou – SVP Executive Account Director
Gabriella Dickens – VP Account Director
Stella Warkman – SVP Director of Creative Excellence and Operations
Karla Kruger – SVP Group Account Director, Global Operations
Aaron Kovan – EVP, Chief Production Officer (NY)
Stacy Flaum – SVP, Executive Integrated Producer
MJ Soler – Senior Integrated Producer
Jory Sutton – Senior Integrated Producer
Katie Henry – Videographer
Adrian Hincu – Business Director, MRM
Mama Kane, Account Manager, Spirit McCann
Erica Yahr – Chief Strategy Officer
Amadeo Plaza – VP, Strategy Director
David Halberstadt – Business Manager
Jamie Jou – Director of Music, BA Licensing
Abdoulaye Barry – ADLaM Co-creators
Ibrahima Barry – ADLaM Co-creators
Mark Jamra – Typeface Designers
Neil Patel – Typeface Designers
Andrew Footit – Typeface Designer
Duncan Clarke – Textile Expert
Jean Didi – Andrew Zeitner – Director/Photographer
Khadija Farah – Photographer