Every year, refuges walk more than 1 billion miles (2 billion kilometres) across the planet collectively to reach safety. Meanwhile people who don’t live in conflict zones walk on steppers and treadmills just for their fitness.
Broadcast design company, Hello Charlie; digital agency, Great State; and the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, are simply asking people to use their fitness apps to join together to match the effort that refuges put in. To donate the kilometres they’re already covering to a global total matching the distance travelled by refugees.
Lucy Weston, senior art director at Great State, noted, “The beauty of this campaign is how easy it makes it for users to connect with refugees. It uses technology in a really subtle way to draw a physical connection and understanding between people who could be millions of kilometres apart and allows people who feel powerless to help make a difference in everyday life.”
Hello Charlie led the two-year project as creative directors and worked with Great State on the lead creative from inception through to the project launch. The team worked with the UN Refugee Agency to find the right balance of sentiment and action for a global campaign that would bring about awareness and change to the plight of refugees across the planet.
Hello Charlie created the launch film with UNHCR goodwill ambassador, Ben Stiller, and Great State constructed the core digital activation that allows participants to donate their physical activity to help reach the campaign’s 1 billion mile target, generate valuable leads for UNHCR, and raise awareness of the magnitude of the global refugee crisis.
Results will be added in real time on the campaign website, so participants can see the individual difference they are making and keep an eye on the running total for the campaign’s duration.
In 2019, people in 27 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and North America, Europe and the Middle East will take part in the campaign, including individuals, celebrity supporters, refugees and UNHCR staff. The target is to engage 1.5 million people around the globe to sign up. Participants can also seek sponsorship to fundraise for UNHCR, which will be used to support refugees as they reach the first point of safety. This includes vital registration and reception services, which provide refugees with access to life-saving food and water, household supplies, shelter, and healthcare and psychological support to ensure their well-being in a place where they are now safe.
Christian Schaake, head of private sector partnerships at UNHCR, commented, “We know that there is immense public sympathy and compassion for refugees. I see this every day when talking to our donors and supporters all over the world.
“We wanted to tap into these positive feelings of solidarity by uniting millions of people all over the world in a visible global campaign that both celebrates the resilience and strength of refugees and achieves a common goal to protect them as they reach safety. The public response to this campaign has already been fantastic. It will be inspiring to see people from over 27 countries stepping with refugees, donating kilometres, donating funds and engaging their family and friends to do the same.”
Charles Golding, Hello Charlie’s senior creative on the project, added, “After an extensive period of research and development, the team were able to develop a concept that has global resonance and a universal understanding. The journey narrative is a strong and evocative motif that runs through the entire campaign. Whether you are walking to school or working out in the gym, the campaign allows for anyone from any background to engage and empathise with a subject matter that is often perceived to be far from many people’s daily reality.”