UN World Food Program takes to the cinema to fight global hunger

As the world gathered at the United Nations this week to discuss the most pressing global issues, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) launched the next phase of a cinema ad campaign that has so far generated a 40% increase in brand awareness in North America about WFP’s work on the frontlines of world hunger.

The ‘Feed our Future’ campaign is part of a partnership between SAWA, the Global Cinema Advertising Association, its network of Global Cinema Advertising companies and WFP, which is a leading humanitarian agency supporting development and responding to hunger needs in global hotspots.

The campaign aims to build on last year’s results, which helped to double awareness of WFP among those who saw the ad, raised more than half a million dollars through online giving and saw a 38% increase in downloads of the agency’s Share the Meal donation app.

Sir John Hegarty, of The Garage Soho, returns for a second year to lead the creative along with director Nick Gordon, who designed the ad to appeal directly to cinema audiences, with the help of neuroscience research from Neuro-Insight. The spot, 'Coming Soon,' highlights the potential lost to the world when children’s voices are silenced due to hunger.

The narrative of the ad sees a group of Syrian refugee children, who were selected from a local community, playing in rubble and gazing out of bombed-out buildings in an apparent war zone. Softly, a small chorus of voices begins singing ‘How Can I Tell You’ by Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens, who gave his permission to use the song. As the short film progresses, one by one these children disappear until only one voice remains – a conclusion that mirrors the realities faced by the three million children around the world who lose their lives to hunger or malnutrition.

The ad premiered at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier this year but goes live in cinemas today (26 September).

"Cinema is still the most amazing medium for any creative person to work in. A place for you to tell your story on the ‘mother of all screens’. It’s not surprising that it’s so important and continues to capture the public’s imagination,” said Hegarty.

“We have every reason to believe that this year, the ‘Feed our Future’ campaign is going to take us even further in terms of raising WFP brand visibility and engaging a wider audience in the fight against global hunger,” said Corinne Woods, chief marketing officer at WFP. “We think that this year’s campaign is even more emotionally engaging and we expect more people will respond to our call. In a world full of noise, cinema has proven incredibly effective for us at cutting through to not only establish our brand, but also to convert cinema goers into active supporters and donors.”

Added Cheryl Wannell, chief executive of SAWA: “The cinema medium makes the most of its space, creative and audience to deliver gripping content, showing consumers advertising at its very best. In 2020 the cinema medium is predicted to become the fastest-growing ad medium ahead of the internet. For brands like the World Food Programme who want to reach the hearts and minds of millennials, the immersive experience that Cinema gives is the most powerful of all storytelling mediums.”

‘Feed Our Future’ will air on movie screens from September to November 2019 in more than 35 countries around the world.

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