In late 2019, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) faced a major challenge. Across the world, the intolerance of refugees was growing, and the refugee crisis had faded into the background. An increasing number of people were convinced that refugees coming to their country were not genuine, and many wanted to close their borders.
In response to this, Blue State was asked to help generate public awareness of these issues; creating content to mark the first Global Compact Forum, led by UNHCR alongside Member States, international organizations, refugees, civil society, the private sector, and experts. Blue State was tasked with creating and producing a campaign that would get the public talking about and positively engaging on the issue of refugees, and celebrating refugees’ achievements around the world.
Blue State researched and studied attitudes towards refugees to understand what would impact public opinion. We then developed a creative narrative and campaign manifesto, highlighting the challenges refugees faced, as well as their positive contributions to society.
The campaign was called ‘Everyone Counts,’ and we created the #EveryOneCounts central campaign film by shooting in locations around the world. We featured 16 celebrities and UNHCR ambassadors including Benedict Cumberbatch, Ben Stiller, Cate Blanchett, Nomzamo Mbatha, David Morrissey, and Riz Ahmed. The ambassadors challenged and gently satirized the idea of the ‘celebrity-led’ film, before placing a range of refugees themselves center stage. The ‘Everyone Counts’ concept focused on the positive representation of refugees as opposed to victimization.
Complementary to the film, Blue State ran a social media campaign featuring refugees in unexpected places, taking over the accounts of ambassadors, including Stephen Fry, Hugh Jackman, Coldplay, and Neil Gaimen.
During the takeovers, ambassadors posted unusual facts and unknown success stories about themselves, before revealing that these were in fact the stories and contributions of refugees. The featured refugee stories included Razan Alsous, the founder of Yorkshire Dama cheese, pilot Maya Ghazal, and model Adut Akech.
After the reveal, people were directed to a quiz questioning how they would help refugees, which Blue State concepted, wrote, designed, developed, and launched on the UNHCR website. After taking the quiz, participants received a personality type (e.g., activist, community builder) and a set of corresponding actions they could take, showing that there isn’t just one way to help refugees.
The campaign was promoted on social channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Blue State developed a global campaign toolkit that featured smaller video snippets, social teasers, and display advertising, as well as ten stickers for use on social channels to allow individuals to share inspiring stories about refugees.
The campaign reached more than 538M individuals on Twitter and attracted 81,200 new followers on UNHCR’s global accounts during the month of launch. The #EveryOneCounts video collected nearly 8 million views, and there were more than 10,000 visits to the #EveryOneCounts website and quiz.
52% of mentions expressed joy at the campaign or stories they uncovered and doubled positive sentiment on Twitter around the topic of refugees.
When comparing the week of the awareness campaign launch with the seven days prior, 22% more money was raised globally, and the global conversion rate increased by 27.9%.
The campaign was extended with Italy, China, MENA, Canada, Hong Kong, and France rolling out activity from January 2020 onwards.
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