This New NGO Bot Aims To Replace Missing Mothers In War-Torn Countries

Okay, not really. But the irreplaceable nature of mothers is the point of this new War Child campaign.

Imagine you could use technology to replicate a mother’s love and care for a child who has lost their mom to conflict. With a click of your mouse, you could give that kid a newfound sense of maternal care. But of course you can’t. Because for all the wonders of our increasingly digital world, it’s nowhere near the value of the emotional and physical bond that exists between a mother and child.


War Child Canada and agency john st. make that point clear with a new interactive campaign called Surrogaid. It’s a mock site created by Jam3, and accompanying video directed by Jono Hunter, where people can go to provide comfort for children in war zones through a few simple clicks–make a casserole, give a hug, lull a child to sleep. None of it actually exists, because the organization wants to make the point that nothing can replace a mother, so it’s asking for donations to help its ongoing efforts to support mothers and bring the stability and comfort of motherhood back to children in war-affected areas.

Stephen Jurisic, john st. partner and executive creative director, says the idea is rooted in the fact that 95% of War Child’s team are members of the communities they serve, looking to the communities it works with for expertise. “We took this thinking and applied it to this year’s campaign about motherhood,” says Jurisic. “That led to the idea at the core of Surrogaid: what children in war-affected areas really need, are their own mothers. After exploring countless ways to get this message across, it was the absurd–-yet uncomfortably plausible-–idea of remote-operated motherhood that felt like it would resonate both intellectually and emotionally with potential donors. Without ever having to play to people’s guilt.”

If the design of the site feels a bit too real or familiar, Jam3 creative director Adrian Belina says that’s part of the point. “Given the current fascination with crowd-funded tech startups you don’t have to look far for inspiration,” says Belina. “Most efforts follow a familiar marketing formula and we wanted to replicate that in order to feel authentic. That said, it’s by no means a slight of such platforms. We all love to see new challenges solved with creativity and technology. Motherhood, however, isn’t and shouldn’t be one of them, and that’s the real message here.”

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.