How UNICEF framed the climate crisis as a children emergency with Soursop | #BehindTheIdea

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Out of all the people, segments and demographics suffering the consequences of the climate crisis, children are necessarily the ones who will be affected the most. And when it comes to caring for children, few charities do it as well as UNICEF.

With that unique and sadly grim piece of insight in mind, Soursop assisted UNICEF with the 'Climate Emergency Nightmares' campaign, flipping the simple idea of childhood nightmares and having children reassure their parents instead. Ahead of the COP26, UNICEF felt the need to clearly communicate its goals and raise awareness of the climate crisis for a new Western target – which is exactly what the Soursop campaign assisted them with.

Today we are getting Behind the Idea with Ravi Amaratunga Hitchcock, Co-Founder of Soursop, to learn more about the inspiring campaign below.


What was the brief?

UNICEF approached us with wanting to communicate their climate emergency activities in the lead up to COP 26 in Glasgow. As this was a new line of UNICEF work, they wanted to reach a new type of audience in Western markets in a new way

How did the initial pitch/brainstorming phase go?

It was great. Soursop prides itself on working collaboratively with its partners, and we did exactly that. First we worked with the UNICEF team in Geneva to devise a target audience and strategy. We first had to position the climate emergency as a children’s emergency (as the climate crisis will affect their generation the most).

We then realised to hit this message home, we had to reach ‘new’ millennial and Gen x parents who were worried most about this issue, and want to do something about it.

We got to strategy and ideation in a series of sprints that were really fun to dive into.

What was the process behind ideating the concept?

Soursop’s model is all about building a custom team around each brief, and this was no different. We brought on board climate activist (and mum) Mareka Stake who was truly representative of the audience we were trying to reach.

Again after a lot of collaborative working we ended up on the idea of ‘climate nightmares’, where we flipped the usual childhood nightmares with ‘parental nightmares’ instead - showcasing the anxieties normal parents doing their bit for the environment faced.

What was the production process like?

From the get go we collaborated with our friends and partners at HALAL who were brought on board early on in the ideation process. The budgets were tight, and our timelines even tighter - with everyone coming on board to help the greater cause and waiving their usual fees.

As we wanted to reference psychological horror films like ‘Get Out’ and ‘Parasite’ it made sense to bring on board a feature film director who specialised in the genre, rather than a usual ad director. Thessa Meijer was the perfect fit and she really took the idea and crafted a whole universe around it.

We had to shoot in Barcelona in the end, and worked across many different countries remotely to pull this off.

What was the biggest challenge during production? How did you overcome it?

Trying to get a diverse cast, representative of North America and Western Europe, whilst shooting in Barcelona was not easy. We were casting real parent-child relationships adding an extra layer of complexity.

But where there is a will, there is a way, and we went beyond usual casting agencies and used some street casting methods to find the cast we wanted to see.

What kit/tools/software were used to create the project?

The programs used on this one include Houdini for the CG elements, Flame for compositing and online, and grading in Baselight.


What is one funny or notable thing that happened during production?

The set designer created some awesome toy creations that didn’t make the cut, including some pretty mad gender neutral superheroes.

What’s the main message of this project and why does it matter?

If we’re going to make real progress in addressing the climate emergency, world leaders and CEOs need to take radical actions. It’s not just up to parents and the public at large to change their behaviours. UNICEF has a unique position in the corridors of power to make this happen, and let kids’ and parents’ concerns be heard loud and clear.

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

Around 10 weeks.

What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

We hope it brings people who might not have engaged with the climate emergency before to the table. Most people care for the wellbeing of children no matter what side of the political divide they come from. And we need people from all walks of life to engage with the climate emergency for us to combat it.

Hopefully through this work we can begin to position UNICEF as a unique voice within the wider conversation on the climate emergency.


Credit list for the work

Codi Trigger
Joanna Souza
Suzanne Moody

Agency: Soursop
Creative - Mareka Stake
MD Soursop - Lucy Hitchcock
ECD Soursop - Ravi Hitchcock
Brand Director - Abigael Smith

Production studio: HALAL
MD Halal - Roel Oude Nijhuis
Director / Photographer - Thessa Meijer
DOP - Thais Catala
Executive Producer - Christel Hofstee
Producer NL - Aemilia van Lent
Producer Barcelona - Esther de Udaeta

Dylan Connor Haigh

VFX Supervisor - Eduardo San Jose
Lead 3D Artist - Darren Macpherson
2D Artists - Nils Crompton
Colourist - Scott Harris
Colour Assist - Leonardo Grassi
MCR - Andy Kidd
Chief Operating Officer - Chris Kiser
Head of Production - Belén Palos
Producer - Jamie McCubbin

ONLINE: Zie VFX Grading

RETOUCHER / POST PRODUCTION (photography): DutchRetouch


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