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The Endless Letter on Instagram Stories

Finalist in Instagram, Storytelling, Media Partnership, News & Media

Objective

Between 1941 and 1945 over 25 million letters were posted and delivered in the USSR. Ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Victory against Nazi Germany we have revealed a unique collection of 7,000 letters that were carefully preserved for decades in family archives. So we decided to give them a new read in the format of Instagram Stories.

“Endless Letter” is a unique graphic series featuring hundreds of excerpts from original WW2 front-line letters with illustrations created by young students of the Moscow RANEPA Design School as well as renowned artists Peter Bankov and Mikhail Sorkin. Emotional quotes from frontline missives were shared line-by-line in Stories creating a kind of "endless letter" with an original non-stop score by young Russian composer Max Makarychev. Letters from military schools, from the front line, from factories, hospitals and abandoned homes, some filled with hope, some carrying cherished last words. 

“Endless Letter” – is an emotional bridge between today’s peace and the horrific times of war when, against all odds, people loved, dreamed, experienced faith and anxiety. With “Endless Letter” our objective was to link the generations by narrative and visual means, with hope that our contemporaries and descendants will understand why this page of history should never be repeated.

This project is about the fate of an ordinary person. A soldier. A wife. A mother. A child. A father. It is a story of families who had to face such a horrid burden - a story about millions of people who lived and died during the second World War. One can only truly understand the full scale through emotional experience: through personal stories. And there is nothing more personal than letters. 

Strategy

The team worked with the renowned “Letters from the front” archive, perhaps, the most full collection of families’ war-time letters. It took the authors over 5 years to gather thousands of frontline letters from all over Russia. We decided to use the piercing quotes to create the “Endless Letter” and post them as Instagram Stories. 

We partnered with Moscow’s RANEPA Design School to make artistic illustrations to accompany each quote. Teachers, students, as well as famous artists Mikhail Sorkin and Peter Bankov took part in the project. Participation in the project was significant for students not only on an educaitonal level, but also as a human experience, deeply affecting their emotions, feelings of empathy and compassion. It resulted in over 500 illustrations in a variety of shapes, from collages to portraits. 

A specially composed 4-hour-long continuous soundtrack by Maxim Makarychev adds to the atmosphere of the “Endless Letter”. Together with the music and illustrations the letters’ phrases create a touching emotional effect. One can vividly imagine how authors of the letters missed their homes, worried for their mothers and fathers, desired to live and went to their death. 

The project features the unique #VictoryFont "May" which was created specially for the project - behind each character is a documented Reichstag inscription, hand-written 75 years ago by soldiers who conquered Berlin in 1945.

These letters open up a different, private, story of the war; it is a unique testimony that truly connects us with that time. They speak of daily life during the war - what soldiers saw on battlefronts, how their families survived back at home, what people dreamed of, what they hoped for. More than 500 short quotes and accompanying illustrations by young designers are put together into a single “graphic” narrative on Instagram Stories to a non-stop original music score.

In August and September 2020, “Endless Letter” went offline. In cooperation with the Moscow’s Department of Culture, a large-scale exhibition was held in 12 main parks featuring the works of young artists who took part in the project. Over 250 posters were specially created for this out-of-home experience which also had an interactive element - many of the illustrations could be brought to life through a special AR App. Tens of thousands of park-goers had a chance to watch the static images turn into animated musical shorts by hovering their smartphones over the prints.

Results

Project results and numbers:

- 40+ young artists

- 500+ unique illustrations

- Non-stop Instagram Stories soundtrack over 4 hours long

- Over 2 million views

- 100,000 engagements

- 30,000 subscribers

- Over 200 media mentions

Since the start of #VictoryPages on January 13th 2020 the project generated more than 35 million impressions, 250,000 engagements, over 50,000 followers, 4,000,000 video views (800,000 minutes of watch time) and 200+ publications in media. 

Media

Video for The Endless Letter on Instagram Stories

Produced by

RT

Links

Entry Credits

About the Shorty Awards

The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media.

Millions of people participate in The Shortys to recognize individuals and organizations producing great content on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, TikTok, Snapchat, and the rest of the social web.

winners and honorees will be announced at the shorty social good awards digital ceremony on november 19!