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Innovative UN awareness-raising campaign earns prestigious Cannes award

Innovative UN awareness-raising campaign earns prestigious Cannes award

A groundbreaking United Nations campaign that uses the latest technology to give a voice to those who normally go unheard has been recognized by one of the world’s leading international advertising festivals.

“United Nations Voices,” which was designed pro bono for the UN Information Centre in Canberra by Saatchi & Saatchi, Australia, was awarded a Bronze Lion in the 2008 Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, held in France last month.

The campaign makes it possible for the public, for the first time, to listen to an outdoor poster and press advertisement via mobile phone technology.

Seven different posters were set up around various sites in Sydney featuring Loula, a domestic violence survivor; Foday, a refugee from Western Africa; Shannon, aboriginal youth worker and activist; Nathan, a 13-year-old born with HIV; Tony, a homeless man; Nada, a Muslim Australian; and Uncle Max, an aboriginal elder.

To hear one of the stories, people simply take a mobile phone photo of the mouth of the featured person and send it to a number on the poster as a text message. Then the sender receives a phone call with a pre-recorded message from the person they had photographed, including information on how they live and some of the issues they face.

The message also directs people to a UN website where visitors can leave their own comments and thoughts, turning the original seven voices into thousands.

When the campaign was unveiled in March of this year, UNIC Australia’s Director Abdullah Saleh Mbamba noted that “the introduction of such innovative technology by Saatchi and Saatchi enters into a new dimension of awareness-raising that will result in the increased support for the United Nations.”