The UN World Food Program (WFP) teamed up with The Global Cinema Advertising Association (SAWA) for a video spot in an effort to represent the silenced voices of starving children worldwide. SAWA and WFP presented the ongoing campaign and short film at “The Global Cinema Medium Inspired By Hunger” panel that Facebook livestreamed from inside the Palais at Cannes Lions.
The spot, which marks the WFP and SAWA’s second global advertising campaign for “Feed Our Future,” will air across cinema screens in more than 30 countries from September to November 2019, with forthcoming digital and social components.
Set in a war-torn village, the 60-second short film opens with children playing in rubble and gazing out of bombed-out buildings before they begin singing in unison, “How Can I Tell You” by Cat Stevens. As the camera pans across the landscape, they sing “Wherever I am, I’m always walking with you. But I look and you’re not there. It always ends up to one thing. When I look and you’re not there.”
As the chorus continues, each child disappears. Eventually, they all disappear except for one. The spot concludes with a poignant fact, “Every year 3 million children die of hunger. Help keep their voices alive.” Ad legend John Hegarty visited a refugee camp where he scouted the spot’s cast of eight year olds. The cast of kids spent six weeks learning the song in English.
In an advertising world saturated with purpose-driven campaigns and an audience apathetic to never-ending images of starving children, SAWA and WFP’s marketing relies on big ideas and creativity. “When I’m thinking about my marketing strategy, I have to think, first of all, how am I going to reach those governments who will invest in the cause, and then, how do I reach individuals who can do their part. The WFP’s challenges are, does the world actually care and can we cut through the noise? We’re not competing against other brands—we’re competing against no one hearing what we have to say and no one hearing what the 93 million people that the WFP serves have to say. So in the mix of marketing, what we think about is how do you connect to people in a way that’s not your classic charity, which is why we teamed up with SAWA, a brand-building medium, to reach the public consciousness and reframe the issue of world hunger,” Corrine Woods, WFP CMO told AList.
Last year’s film for the “Feed Our Future” campaign told a chilling story about the world’s lost potential due to hunger. In the piece, a girl who died from starvation as a child was robbed of her the chance to discover a scientific medical breakthrough in adulthood. The spot ended with a call-to-action (CTA) to download the ShareTheMeal app, which directly increased WFP donations by 60 percent. The campaign was also digitally integrated via Facebook.
“We’re hoping that with our backstories, our behind-the-scenes footage, taking the audience in Cannes Lions to Lebanon and to refugee camps and showing them a real life outside of Hollywood, that it’s going to inspire the communications world to step up and really embrace the fact that the global problem of hunger can be fixed,” Cheryl Wannell, SAWA CEO, told AList.