Today marks International Peace Day 2018, an event sanctioned by the United Nations and observed annually around the world on 21 September.
To mark the occasion, James Cooper, head of digital content at Cannes Lions, offers five Lion-winning campaigns for good from his company’s archive.
The Humanium Metal Initiative by Swedish agency Åkestam Holst
At its best, advertising can do much more than just sell products, it can change behaviour and even help advance humanity by promoting peace.
Take The Humanium Metal Initiative by Swedish agency Åkestam Holst, which won a Grand Prix in 2017. By creating a totally new metal made from illegal firearms, it was able to essentially commoditise peace while promoting a better world for all.
The initiative has been endorsed by leading humanitarians including the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and Hans Blix and has helped El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Colombia become safer countries in the process.
One book for Peace - Y&R Dubai
One Book for Peace by Y&R Dubai is another fantastic campaign from 2017 that won multiple Lions. By creating a book that contained the teachings of both the Bible and the Quran, the Interreligious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina were able to showcase how similar the religions are. Two weeks after the launch of the book, faith leaders came together for a common prayer for the first time since the Bosnian War.
Facebook 1914 - DDB Paris
It’s often said that one of the best ways to promote a more peaceful future is to remember lessons from the past. There are some campaigns here which have delivered lessons that should make war harder for the next generation to even imagine.
Facebook 1914 by DDB Paris was a big winner back in 2013, reimaging what the Great War would have been like if Facebook existed at the time. With little or no paid media support, the campaign was delivered a 45% increase in visits to a museum dedicated to preserving the lessons of peace from World War I.
Evert_45 - N=5
More recently, N=5 won a Grand Prix in 2018 with Evert_45, an immersive campaign designed to reinforce lessons from World War II among the Dutch youth. Again, it certainly cut through the noise and achieved its goals: young Dutch people voluntarily watched over 1.3 million minutes of history lessons as a result.
Perhaps most impressive is the long-running multi-Lion winning work that MullenLowe Bogota undertook in Colombia. Over several years and multiple executions, the agency worked to encourage the demobilisation of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in a bid to end the country’s lengthy civil war.
Operation Rivers of Light - MullenLowe Bogota
For example, as above, the agency directly reached out to active rebel soldiers with messages from their mothers encouraging them to come home for Christmas. This campaign alone resulted in 218 soldiers laying down their arms and withdrawing from the conflict. In 2016, after years in battle the Colombian government signed a peace deal with FARC ending the civil war and in no small part because of MullenLowe’s efforts.
The above campaigns are featured on Cannes Lions’ digital resource The Work, which hosts more than 200,000 videos. View the platform's International Day of Peace playlist for more inspiration around the theme.