Reimagining innovation through the lens: PE's Rooftop productions partners with UNICEF to spread global message of hope

JANUARY 15, 2015

In our overcrowded media-verse, where marketers and brands fight tooth and nail for their spot in the sun, it’s become increasingly difficult for some of the most deserving voices to be heard.

Exploring the power of creative storytelling, particularly through video, is one crucial way that NGO’s and non-profit causes can get their messages heard above the marketing raucous, and capture hearts and imaginations in the process. UNICEF is one major player in the non-profit sector that has recently done this very successfully.

UNICEF’s media followers are accustomed to hard hitting reports, human interest doccies and campaign drives chockfull of colourful stats and poignant photography. But this year for its flagship report on the State of the World’s Children, with the title theme of “Reimagining innovation for every child,” UNICEF decided to venture into slightly new territory through creative visual storytelling.

“This year's report coincided with the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and we used the opportunity to highlight how new ways of solving problems can help overcome the barriers that still prevent millions of children from realizing their right to survive, thrive, and make the most of their potential,” said UNICEF.

“We sought out an approach that would inform a digital-centric audience about the SOWC report and its importance in a compelling way. We partnered with Rooftop Productions to capture the attention of our global fan base through a visual story to spark an emotional connection that would generate awareness and engagement, both related to the subject of innovation and the report itself.” 

With a simple message that change can come from anywhere – even children in the most unlikely places - the story concept was developed by Rooftop’s in house team in collaboration with UNICEF New York. “It was a great working relationship that synergised well, largely due to the trust from UNICEF’s side in giving us a lot of creative license,” said Rooftop Managing Director, Richard Ahlfeldt.

“Most of the project’s time budget went into the concept development because there were a lot of possible scenarios that could work for the story of innovation, but we wanted to be sure we had the one that would get the right response from the video.”

The original concept went through many evolutions to reach the final stage, but as Rooftop Content Developer Andrea Goosen shares, “the initial spark for the story was the idea that visual media has great power to inspire imagination. I wanted the story to capture that nostalgic moment of watching a film on the big screen for the first time, that moment of feeling captured, inspired and connected to something greater than yourself.”

The girl cast for the main role was a big part of the success of the video, according to Ahlfeldt. “For someone with absolutely no acting experience, she really blew us away. And in a way, she really is the onscreen proof that children have so much potential when you give them a chance to be seen and heard.”

Director Nick Waring said it was one of the most inspiring projects he’s had the privilege of working on. “We hope it reaches many people across the world, makes a difference and touches people's lives.”

“The campaign resonates quite strongly because it is inspirational without being too far-fetched. Ultimately, the engagement and response we are seeing supports the idea that South Africans are connecting with the campaign as much as young audiences all around the world,” said UNICEF.

“This was a really refreshing project for us and our team really got engaged in the opportunity,” Ahlfeldt elaborates.

“As a company, Rooftop has always had the goal to work on these kinds of projects. The expertise we’ve gained from advertising and other types of work has helped us develop a high level of technical skill and experience which we’re now able to leverage for NGO clients who wouldn’t necessarily have the budget for it.

"We want to see video being used in society not just to sell stuff, but to motivate people, create awareness on important topics and show people something bigger. We truly believe that video is one of the great tools for change, and we want to keep exploring the power of this medium for worthwhile causes.”