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VaynerMedia London Reimagines Refugee Children as Video Game Characters in New UNICEF Campaign

Advertising Agency
London, UK
The campaign, also made in partnership with UNIT9 and Gameloft, features a one-minute production shot remotely during lockdown in Greece
As part of UNICEF’s global flagship Reimagine campaign, VaynerMedia London has collaborated with the organisation to launch ‘Reimagine the world like a gamer.’ This new campaign challenges viewers to think differently about refugee and migrant children by recasting them as lead characters in video games - full of ambition and adventure - rather than being labelled as victims.

With the devastating effects of Covid-19 still taking their toll, UNICEF needed to create a new strategy designed to engage audiences differently - at a time when they may be facing personal, local, and global challenges. The campaign’s aim is to shift perceptions of refugees and migrants and encourage donations to the charity.

Created by VaynerMedia London, the campaign’s hero film is a one-minute production shot remotely during lockdown in Greece, and brings to life the real stories of three children: Nora, Sama and Pouya. It explains their dreams for the future – to become a doctor, an author and a pilot – and calls on the audience to help them reach their goals with the headline: ‘Your New Mission: Unlock Their Potential’.

While charity ads often focus on guilt and fear, these creative executions use the guise of gaming to help viewers see these children’s lives differently. Positioning the audience as though they are gamers themselves, the clip uses visuals often seen in video games (such as a heads-up display, or HUD) to mimic how video games audiences are primed to think beyond conventional limits and borders. By doing so, viewers can see the innate potential in these children, rather than just the confines of their current situation.

In addition to the campaign work, VaynerMedia London has been collaborating with UNICEF and Gameloft to create a digital mini game, with the children starring in the campaign as the main characters.

The ‘Reimagine’ campaign, including the minigame, launches today across Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube as well as via paid banner ads.

Codi Trigger, global campaign manager, UNICEF, said: “We want to pioneer an incredibly important message: that despite their situations, these children have astounding potential and we can help them to achieve it. They have an incredible amount to give to society and their local communities when provided with the right support. Especially in a Covid world, games and gaming are a great pathway to integration and social inclusion for children and young people. They are a social equaliser for children, allowing us to focus on what makes children similar, rather than different. Just like migration, games are transnational and appealing to children of diverse backgrounds. They create a fun and comfortable environment to start learning acceptance.”

Head of strategy, VaynerMedia London, DuBose Cole, added: “Gaming allows people to see the world in new ways and that allows people to see the challenges facing migrant and refugee children from a new perspective. In a virtual world anything is possible, so this campaign aims to inspire us to think about what more we can possibly do to help children. Using the language of gaming allows us to be bold and imaginative to bring this incredibly important cause to life.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented global health, humanitarian, socioeconomic and human rights crisis. Added pressure on overburdened social and health services is threatening to reverse decades of hard-won development gains for children, while lockdowns and other restrictions are exacerbating the vulnerabilities of children and their families globally. Children continue to be disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic that has disrupted everything that we know is critical for children’s social, physical, mental, and emotional development, learning and well-being.

Agency / Creative
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