British supermodel and actress Lily Cole has launched a creative campaign, developed by FCB Inferno, for Project Literacy, at the Houses of Parliament. The Alphabet of Illiteracy project was established by FTSE 100 learning company, Pearson, to make significant and sustainable advances in the fight against illiteracy, which still affects 1 in 10 people globally, particular in third world nations. It brings together organisations spanning from UNESCO, to Microsoft, to the National Literacy Trust. Pearson briefed FCB Inferno on behalf of Project Literacy to raise awareness of the scale, severity and dire consequences of illiteracy, and position it as an urgent global issue. The objective is for illiteracy to be placed higher on the political agenda and, ultimately, for the United Nations to make illiteracy a more measurable target within the 4th Sustainable Development Goals so that no child will be born at risk of illiteracy. The global campaign is supported by 40 charities and educational organisation, with the target that by 2030 no newborn child will face a life of poor literacy. Campaigners have launched a petition urging action on illiteracy, which will be presented to the UN in New York on International Literacy Day on 8 September.
“I’m not pretending I have the solution to the problems. I’m trying to raise awareness and make people think about illiteracy in a more comprehensive way” Lily Cole
Evidence shows that illiteracy is a significant contributor to many of the world’s worst problems, such as radicalisation, poverty and gender inequality. Using the building blocks of reading and writing; the alphabet, FCB Inferno has created the Alphabet of Illiteracy; a literal A – Z featuring 26 major issues, carefully researched to tie literacy to different global problems that could be in part overcome by greater literacy. For example, A is for AIDS, because if you can’t read or write you are five times less likely to understand how people can contract HIV, B is for Bloodshed, because the rate of violent crimes such as homicide and sexual assaults is almost double among the illiterate population, and C is for Child Brides, because if all women had the literacy skills required to complete primary education, child marriages would reduce by a sixth.
In a 90 second film (above), produced by 1stAveMachine London, the Alphabet of Illiteracy is set to the catchy melody of the 1948 hit “A You’re Adorable.” Each letter is represented by a hand crafted sculpture by Wilfred Wood, known for his satirical work on Spitting Image. These sculptures have been animated by Red Knuckles, an agency that counts animated pop band Gorrilaz and the BBC amongst its clients. The film is being seeded in the UK by The Village Communications across digital platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Unruly and Virool, targeting the millennial audience, with a focus on those who have a particular interest in social issues and those who are highly active and influential in social media. A complementary social media strategy tells the story of each letter and highlights Project Literacy partners’ work, as well as experiences of those affected by illiteracy. This will launch across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr. Each letter has a dedicated Instagram account featuring content on each topic, allowing users to discover each letter of the Alphabet of Illiteracy natively on the platform. Outreach will also engage key social influencers that include people close to literacy and sustainable development and a number of high profile partners, who will add their voice to the campaign.
“This is a deliberately provocative campaign designed to create the strong reaction needed and we are proud to be supporting Pearson with such a great initiative” Frazer Gibney
If your interested has been piqued, there is also a bespoke Project Literacy website, which houses the entire Alphabet of Illiteracy. Here, visitors can read an explanation behind each letter, learning about how Project Literacy partners are tackling each issue. The site encourages people to take action, which could include sharing the film, finding a volunteer opportunity, or signing a petition that asks for the UN to put literacy at the heart of every action to advance the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. On signing, users can create a GIF of their name in the Alphabet of Illiteracy letters to be shared on social media.
Frazer Gibney, CEO at FCB Inferno, said: “Illiteracy is at the root of the world's biggest issues. Project Literacy was established to put this problem at the top of the world’s social agenda, not least the United Nations. This is a deliberately provocative campaign designed to create the strong reaction needed and we are proud to be supporting Pearson with such a great initiative.” Emilie Colker, Vice President of Brand and Social Impact at Pearson, founding partner of Project Literacy, added: The Alphabet of Illiteracy leverages the emotion and equity linked to issues such as poverty, health, and gender inequality and links them to the inability to read and write because we know people see other issues as more urgent. Yet literacy is a huge part of the solution, and through the campaign we aim to get people to care about and take action to help solve illiteracy.” Finally, Lily Cole, who has been incredibly vocal on her support for the campaign, added: “We need to put illiteracy more central to our thinking. I’m not pretending I have the solution to the problems. I’m trying to raise awareness and make people think about illiteracy in a more comprehensive way.”