We the People: How Meryl Streep, Malala and Stephen Hawking pulled together with ordinary voices for UN Global Goals social push

The Drum goes behind the scenes of ‘We the People’, a crowd-sourced film designed to promote the United Nations’ new plan to eradicate poverty and climate change.

On Saturday 26 September, 60,000 people rallied together in Central Park for the Global Citizen festival.

The event coincided with the UN’s Sustainable Development Summit in which world leaders set out an agenda for a new set of Global Goals – a series of ambitious targets designed to end extreme poverty, hunger and climate change by 2030.

The demonstration was headlined by the likes of Beyoncé, Pearl Jam and Ed Sheeran, but the real centrepiece of the show was ‘We the People’ – a star-studded three-minute film which aimed to put pressure on leaders to commit to the new plan.

Curated through a social and mobile push, the spot features clips of A-listers and ordinary people alike and was produced by The Rumpus Room.

Co-founder and creative director, Tomas Roope, said the concept was born out of the desire to have all of the 17 goals recited in the ad, without viewers “falling asleep by goal eight.”

“The intention of the film was to use the mechanics of celebrity but in a different way. The idea was that we were going to bring the public and celebrities together to give a more democratic and collective expression of support,” he added.

Activists were asked to record themselves reading a line from one of the objectives that they felt passionately about and asked to upload it to wethepeople.globalgoals.org. The platform was supported by a web app which, according to Roope, directly prompted social users to film a message of support.

Lots of stars aligned for the campaign, including Malala, Stephen Hawking, Daniel Craig, the Queen and John Legend to name but a few, and the agency pulled these endorsements together with all of the publicly submitted clips.

The Rumpus Room is no stranger to this type of work, just this month it produced One Direction’s socially curated ‘Dear World Leaders’ video for action/2015, which garnered over 80,000 responses from fans worldwide.

The London agency’s managing director, Stuart Avery, thinks that getting household names involved in the process is essential.

Speaking ahead of the video’s launch he said: “it’s just a case of waiting for all those big names to get involved and give us a big push on the traffic.”

“In previous campaigns we’ve worked with celebrities like One Direction and it has given us a boost, encouraging thousands of submissions.”

The resulting film was broadcast in over 100 countries and took over Google’s landing page on 25 September, but Roope asserted that the process wasn’t without its challenges.

“This is complex because you need an understanding of the nature of fanbases; they aren’t all the same. For example Gwen Stefani's fans are very different to One Direction’s.”

“Then there’s the social understanding – how do we get people into an environment where they feel comfortable to record and submit?”

The ad, which has clocked up over 400,000 views to date, is in good company, sitting alongside Richard Curtis’ Project Everyone initiative – which saw the launch of the first ever worldwide cinema ad to publicise the Global Goals, as well as an international pop-up radio network featuring interviews with cultural leaders, journalists and artists.

So what does the agency want the creative will accomplish?

“I’m just hoping that what we’re part of is going to have enough impact,” said Roope.

"That we don’t forget that’s what we set out to achieve, and so that when we start making decisions about what we buy and who we vote for that this is at the back of our mind," he added.

You can view the ad in full below.

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