Unicef UK War on Disease: Is it expecting too much?

unicef1As the country gears up for the pre-Christmas rush – yep, there are only 61 days to go until December 25 – Unicef UK is aiming to get in early for what is traditionally a key period for the charity sector in a new campaign which “Declares War” on deadly diseases.

The initiative is the first activity through Publicis-owned creative agency The Community, and outlines Unicef’s ongoing mission to eradicate global disease via vaccines. The film is set to Sign of the Times by Harry Styles and features Lord of the Rings actor Orlando Bloom.

Running across, social, outdoor, radio and digital, with support from the charity’s “ambassador influencers”, the campaign is designed to recruit people to sign up to join Unicef in the battle to eradicate global illness.

It opens with a shot of a refugee camp, with a combination of live film and photographic imagery focusing on the plight of children. The voiceover states: “We declare war. War on pain. War on suffering. War on the biggest child killer the world has ever known. We declare war on disease. Every single day, disease claims the lives of 7,000 children; every single one of them preventable. So we declare war.”

It then switches to the Unicef relief effort, showing how the charity’s vaccination work can eradicate disease. The voiceover continues: “With our weapons of mass protection, we shall vaccinate and immunise. We shall defend the world’s children in their hour of need. For if we don’t, who will?”

It goes on to explain how last year Unicef helped to vaccinate nearly half the world’s children but that it needs support to do more. It concludes: “Search War on Disease to find out more. Because if this isn’t something worth fighting for, what is?”

Unicef UK deputy executive director for communications, advocacy and programmes Sophie Gallois said: “At Unicef, we feel strongly that our work protecting children’s health will impact future generations and the shape of tomorrow’s world. We asked The Community for a creative battle cry that would engage the UK public to join our movement and they answered our challenge with a powerful and contemporary campaign.”

The Community executive creative director Mark Hunter added: “From day one, [Unicef] totally bought into the need to change the way they talk about themselves and their mission to get people re-engaged and inspired to join the cause. More than that, they pushed us at every stage to stay true to our vision so that we could deliver something capable of getting people to put their hands up and then in their pockets to give the money so urgently required to help vaccinate and protect children all over the world.”

So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office? Does the campaign do enough to make Unicef stand out in what is an incredibly crowded market? Does it really promote its status as the world’s largest children’s charity? Does it make it easy enough to respond to what is undoubtedly a great cause?

Well, on the plus side, the ad does manage to avoid the temptation to tug at the heartstrings too much, and gets its “War on Disease” message across effectively.

We just wonder whether they could have made more of Unicef’s “ambassadors”. After all, what is the point of featuring Orlando Bloom if it is a “blink and you’ll miss me” appearance. At the last count, Unicef UK’s ambassadors also include Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown, Rita Ora, Emma Bunton and Michael Sheen…surely they could have been recruited too?

Finally, there has got to be a better way to engage potential donors than to expect them to “Search War on Disease” online hasn’t there? Now, we are no big fans of massive phone numbers plastered all over the screen but if you really want people to respond, you need to give them a bit of help…

Decision Marketing Adometer 7 out of 10

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