How Malaria No More UK inspired world leaders to commit $4bn to defeat deadliest-ever disease

Malaria No More UK won Best Not for Profit or Charity Content Marketing Strategy/Campaign at The Drum Content Awards 2019 for its Malaria Must Die campaign. In this case study, the campaign team reveals the challenges faced and the strategies used to produce this successful initiative.

The challenge

In 2017, the WHO’s World Malaria Report showed that, for the first time in a decade, cases of malaria and malaria-related deaths were on the rise. In response the global malaria community (including the UN’s malaria secretariat, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as many others) united to create a campaign to reframe perceptions of malaria and inspire leaders to take action to end the world’s oldest and deadliest disease.

At its highest level the campaign was developed to catapult malaria back onto the political agenda. Government funding is required to end malaria in our lifetime, save lives now and halt the rise in cases and deaths, which risks undoing years of progress already made in fighting the disease.

To achieve this, the coalition set itself the overarching communications goal to influence the political and private sector to make commitments to ‘end malaria in a generation’.

More specifically our objectives were to:

  • Secure commitments from key donor countries.
  • Build broader public awareness of malaria in key markets.
  • Recruit new voices and champions for the campaign (influencers, talent, private sector, grassroots).
  • Build momentum and roadmap to 2020 – including establishing new partnerships.

The campaign

The campaign is a collaboration by the global malaria community to raise awareness for malaria and ensure the world’s oldest and deadliest disease remains a priority on the global, political agenda. The coalition includes partners from all sectors – NGOs, commercial, tech, academic and political – with Malaria No More UK as the convening organisation.

Partners also played a key role in bringing the campaign to life and catapulting it into a public space with R/GA developing the Malaria Must Die brand, RSA producing and directing the launch film and Synthesia providing the tech that enabled our star, David Beckham, to speak nine languages!

The campaign, launched by Beckham, called on the public to take action to end malaria, the world’s oldest and deadliest disease. The film was succeeded with an animation by Aardman and ongoing content featuring talent such as James Corden, Andy Murray, Zoella and Hugh Laurie.

The next mission was to encourage governments to pledge to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria taking place in October 2019 in Lyon, France.

In April 2019 Malaria Must Die released a short film, produced by Ridley Scott Associates and harnessing groundbreaking AI technology provided by Synthesia, in which David Beckham launched the world’s first voice petition to end malaria.

Instead of collecting signatures, the campaign asks people around the world to add their voices. Each voice collected via the petition will contribute to a unique piece of audio art which will be delivered to world leaders at the UN General Assembly ahead of critical funding decisions for the Global Fund, which provides almost 60% of malaria funding.

The petition gained further momentum in September at the UN General Assembly when Malaria Must Die launched the world’s first malaria Facebook and Instagram AR filter alongside a targeted out-of-home campaign across New York to grab the attention of world leaders.

The results

The first phase of the Malaria Must Die campaign in 2018 reached 1.3 billion people via content pieces including the first David Beckham short and ‘Mozzy Bites’ multi-talent piece. The subsequent attention on the campaign culminated in the Malaria Summit 2018, the stage for an historic moment as leaders, royalty and civic figures gathered to witness a pledge to halve malaria in the Commonwealth and a commitment of $4.1 billion; declarations that could save 650,000 lives and protect 350 million more.

The second phase of the campaign, launching the voice petition with David Beckham’s call to action in nine languages, raised our campaign reach to 1.8 billion worldwide.

The release of this second film saw hourly bulletins on BBC News, Sky News, Channel 5 news and ITV Lunchtime, and interviews with our spokespeople on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire, Channel 5 and Sky News. 1177 digital out-of-home ads appeared across UK malls courtesy of ClearChannel and Dentsu Aegis Networks, with 6 million more opportunities to view. The film was also broadcast across 10 channels in 37 African countries throughout the African Cup of Nations football tournament thanks to partnerships with SuperSport and Nando’s.

As a result of the petition thousands of people have spoken up and leaders are taking action by committing $14 billion to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria at the Global Fund Replenishment Conference in Lyon in October 2019..

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Content Awards 2019. If you think you can do better, register your interest in next year's awards.

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