SAWA teams with World Food Programme to ‘help save lives’

Corinne Woods (left), Terry Savage, Sir John Hegarty, Cheryl Wannell and WFP’s Corinne Fleischer

Corinne Woods (left), Terry Savage, Sir John Hegarty, Cheryl Wannell and WFP’s Corinne Fleischer

Hunger feeds wars. Just one of many messages — most stark, some more hopeful — delivered during yesterday’s SAWA seminar, which saw the premiere of the 2019 UN World Food Programme (WFP) cinema ad Feed Our Future.

The new 60-second ad, which will be released in 30-plus countries in September, is directed by Nick Gordon, conceived by Sir John Hegarty and The Garage Soho, and features a song by Cat Stevens. It opens with children playing in the rubble of bombed-out buildings. Softly, they start to sing, then disappear one by one, until one small voice remains — a chilling metaphor for the three million children who are silenced by hunger or malnutrition every year. The audience is then prompted to visit to help ensure that no child need worry about where their next meal is coming from.

“Advertising isn’t just there for selling stuff — it’s also there to help save lives,” Hegarty said.

The new film builds on last year’s SAWA/WFP campaign, which was so successful that it “almost created a movement”, said SAWA CEO Cheryl Wannell. David M Beasley, executive director of the UN World Food Programme (UNWFP), translated its impact into hard metrics: “a 38% increase in downloads of the ShareTheMeal app, a 60% increase in revenue and a 40% increase in branding — in just one year”. He added: “Let me quantify that for you: that's two million meals for children just through the partnership we started last year with SAWA and the global cinema medium.”

The SAWA session also made history by being the first seminar to be streamed globally via Facebook Live. And this year’s launch campaign has broken ground in other ways: all Cannes’ top hotels, restaurants and bars have agreed to promote the appeal via menu inserts, coasters, digital ads and social media.

Talking to the Lions Daily News after the seminar, Hegarty said the cinema medium has traditionally been seen as a brand-building medium. “If you’d suggested that it could also be an activation medium, I’d have said you were daft,” he added. But the success of the 2018 campaign demonstrated the power of the global cinema audience in helping to achieve a world of ‘zero hunger’.

WFP’s CMO Corinne Woods said: “Everybody’s touched by the plight of these children. Everybody cries. And then everybody walks away. But the cinema medium has said, ‘We’re not walking away. We’re committing ourselves to this cause.’ They’re saying, ‘Don’t just be touched by this — come and join us. Help us to turn hunger from a weapon of war into a weapon of peace.’”

Hegarty agreed: “My message is simple: sign up and you can make a change. You can help feed our future.”

Harriet Palmer