Project Everyone: How Richard Curtis aims to make world leaders follow the Global Goals and change the world with a global cinema ad

“Our object is to get the word out there...you can’t fight for your rights if you don’t know what your rights are.” So begins Richard Curtis, the film maker behind some of the world’s most successful comedies (Notting Hill, Four Weddings and Funeral and Love Actually) and co-founder of Red Nose Day and Make Poverty History, as he explains the purpose behind his latest world changing endeavour.

Project Everyone is an audacious challenge for all involved, not least its organiser who aims to put pressure on world leaders to follow the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which will be set by the United Nations later this month, and convey them to the entire world within a seven-day period.

“I am incredibly passionate about the ability to change the lives of other individuals for not much money,” he says of his mission. “I remember the first time I met Bob Geldof he told me that he had made more money in 20 minutes having a cup of tea with president Mitterand than he had for the whole of Band Aid and Live Aid because of the power of politicians. So I became very interested in how politics can really be the major engine of change.”

The new global goals will replace the Millennial Development Goals set in 2000, which Curtis believes have had “an astonishing effect”, crediting them for doubling the number of children in the world attending school as well as improving child mortality figures. However he believes those results could have been better, had more people been aware of the goals when first set. He compares them to the Shawshank Redemption (“very poor opening weekend, turns out to be the third best film of all time”) and says this latest project will aim to solve that awareness problem from day one.

Communicating those goals globally is a challenge in itself, but an equally ambitious strategy has been devised with a global cinema advert featuring the voices of a number of major actors, including Liam Neeson as the voice of God and Michelle Rodriguez the Llama. This ad will be the centrepiece of the plan, running in every cinema in the world on launch day through the help of global cinema advertising body Sawa.

Working alongside Curtis on Project Everyone are some major names in marketing including Aviva group executive Amanda Mackenzie, Fallon chief executive Gail Gallie and former Freud Communications director Kate Garvey, all of whom will use their many media contacts and skills to drive awareness.

Another key name driving Project Everyone is that of Sir John Hegarty who, alongside his agency BBH and Aardman Animations, is creating the campaign, which focuses on a group of animals who represent each participating country. Also helping to promote the campaign have been actors Freida Pinto and Chiwetel Ejiofor.

“Here we have something where the world has got together,” begins Hegarty in explaining his creative concept. “I thought we should celebrate and show the moment when the world said ‘yes, we will come together over this!’ I thought that was brilliant.

“But how do you do that? How do you put some drama into that? That was when I thought it be great would be to use every country’s national animal instead of the delegates, and show that they could come together. And if they can come together then this shows that we can all do it.

“Then of course, taking that through the line, it was very important to get younger people involved in this and do something that isn’t just about fighting these issues but doing it in a way that engages people. That was very important.”

The centrepiece ad will go live on 26 September internationally to coincide with the beginning of the Global Citizen Festival, headlined by Beyoncé, Pearl Jam, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay in New York City. Cinime, the mobile app that allows viewers to interact with movie theatre adverts through their phones, is also heavily involved in driving the message and ensuring audiences respond to the ad.

The campaign will go further than just cinemas during the seven-day-period, with TV, posters, radio and online all set play their part in different languages around the world.

Another element will be Radio Everyone, a ‘global pop-up station’ where Curtis has put out a plea for the radio community around the world to collect as much “amazing stuff” as they can possible get and send it out to the global listenership to promote the global goals.

Meanwhile, another call for teachers to add elements to their lesson plans around the issues the goals will address has also gone out, named the World’s Largest Lesson.

“We want people to go to the website, register, and put pressure on governments by adding their signature,” says Hegarty as he explains the fundamental call to action of all the activity.

Curtis has long been aware of the power of celebrity, utilised by Comic Relief to drive mass awareness, and is currently recruiting some of the world biggest names to help promote the Project Everyone message during the final week of September.

Getty Images, one of five founding partners of the Global Goals movement and its CMO Susan Smith Ellis is aiming to promote the 17 goals through its connection with photographers to highlight the problems (see example above).

Other Media and brand partners helping to spread the word also include Google, Unilever, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Virgin, Aviva, and Unicef, to name a few. Ultimately, all involved aim to see an end to extreme poverty and continued climate erosion by 2030 by asking the world to lend their individual voices.

Celebrities who have backed the Global Goals push include Robert Pattinson, One Direction, Jennifer Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher, Meryl Streep, and several others in an effort to help the awareness raising moving into the next 15 years.

The One Direction video 'Dear World Leaders' was created during a month-long mobile and social campaign produced by The Rumpus Room, which engaged the group’s fans using the hash tag #action1D, resulting in almost 80,000 submissions from around the world.

The video had been viewed almost 2,250,000 times on YouTube at the time or writing.

Project Everyone might sound like it has given itself an impossible task – engaging seven billion people in just seven days – but if anyone can do it there is no one more qualified or experienced than Richard Curtis.

Find out more information about Project Everyone at the dedicated website.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.