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UNHCR advertising campaign wins a prestigious Clio award


UNHCR advertising campaign wins a prestigious Clio award

A creative newspaper and magazine advertising campaign for the UN refugee agency has won a prestigious Clio award in the print category.
1 June 2010
Doing the Laundry: one of the images in the award-winning campaign.

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, June 1 (UNHCR) - A creative and witty newspaper and magazine campaign for the UN refugee agency has won a prestigious Clio award for the quality of its concept and execution.

The "Problems" campaign, created pro bono by the Buenos Aires office of global advertising agency, Young and Rubicam, picked up a bronze award in the print category at the annual Clio Awards last Thursday in New York.

The Clios are given to reward creative excellence in advertising and design. Thousands of entries are submitted each year from around the world in a number of categories, such as television, print, billboard, interactive, design, direct mail, poster, radio, innovative media, integrated campaign, content and contact, and student work.

Young and Rubicam created three stark, almost apocalyptic, photographic images featuring the message: "Refugees want the same problems as you have." In one, an African woman stands by a wash tub in a semi-arid landscape and holds a red sock that has run and stained the rest of her washing.

In another, a young man looks startled as his mother catches him smoking a cigarette in the half destroyed lavatory of their home. The third image depicts a man washing a broken down car among bombed-out buildings as it rains.

Caught in the Act: one of the images in the award-winning campaign.

The print campaign has run in top newspapers and magazines over the past year in several South American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Aside from winning a Clio bronze, it is also in the running to win a prize in the "Grand Prix for Good" category at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in late June.

Hernán Damilano, creative director of the campaign, said it was difficult to raise awareness about the work of UNHCR in parts of South America because "the situation of refugees is so far from the day-to-day life of the audience."

His answer was to use typical every day situations - doing the laundry, washing the car and sneaking off for a crafty smoke - and putting them in a refugee context. The results are dramatic and memorable, and the audience can empathize.

"This absurdity gives the scenes something comical," Damilano noted. "Through this communication we want to create a consciousness of a problem for those that aren't aware or engaged. Experience has shown me that humour is much better at that than guilt," he added.

At least one of the models is a refugee. Marie, the African girl holding the sock, came to Argentina seven years ago with her husband after fleeing their native Senegal. Marie's three sons were born here and hold Argentinian citizenship.

Her photo was taken in a studio with the background later added using computer graphics. But she said it reminded her of her home in the Casamance, a region of Senegal south of The Gambia. Despite a peace agreement in 2004, separatists continue to clash sporadically with Senegalese government troops.

"There are more trees in Casamance, but something in the picture is very similar to the place where I grew up," she said, adding: "C'est la vie."

By Carolina Podestá in Buenos Aires, Argentina