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Take A Look At The Year’s Most Powerful Ad Campaigns For Good

The D&AD Impact Awards honored three campaigns: for immunizations in Afghanistan, the statue of the girl on Wall Street, and a campaign against child trafficking.

Take A Look At The Year’s Most Powerful Ad Campaigns For Good
“It’s an opportunity to shine a light on things that really matter that absolutely are changing and making a difference in people’s lives.” [Illustration: RadomanDurkovic/iStock]

Afghanistan faces the world’s worst infant mortality rate: about 115 of every 1,000 children dying largely from a lack of proper vaccinations against disease. In the poor country, where many people live remotely, it can be hard to reach everyone with vaccinations, and there’s some cultural stigma against getting the treatment. But even when they are available, the parents must maintain the region’s low-tech method to tracking shots–which is basically a paper card that parents carry to and from clinics, which is hard to keep track of, leading to missed vaccinations.

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To fix that, the Ministry of Public Health Afghanistan has teamed up with McCann Worldgroup India to launch the Immunity Charm, a play on a traditional bracelet that Afghan babies wear for spiritual protection. Instead of the usual black beads, healthcare workers add new colored ones to create a visual shot record that’s tied to the patient, with each color signaling that a different a shot or booster has taken place (purple for measles or red for polio). The concept, as some promotional material states, is “making immunization into a tradition.”

That campaign is one of three to receive top honors at the D&AD Impact Awards last night. D&AD, a British educational charity promoting excellence in design and advertising has teamed with Advertising Week, which is currently hosting its week-long salute to the industry in New York, to celebrate collaborations between business, philanthropy and the advertising worlds that find creative ways to change the world for the greater good. “Part of this is that business has to take responsibility for helping solve these problems because if we don’t we are, not to put too fine a point on it, fucked,” says D&AD CEO Tim Lindsay.

This year’s awards spanned 12 categories that were in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including topics like environmental stability, financial empowerment, and humanitarian aid. Ad firms submitted more than 600 total entries, the which were judged by a jury of over 80 top execs across the financial, philanthropic, and design fields.

Each submission was graded for creativity, innovation, value, and impact in making the world more equal or sustainable. The Immunity Charm initiative, which started in the Kabul district, serving 500 kids, has seen enough success that it’s expanding. Part of the success is that it’s a low-cost and easily learnable solution to a complex problem, making everyone more likely to adopt it. Here’s a look at how it works.

The second top prize winner was the Fearless Girl campaign, which included State Street Global Investors mounting a statue of a little girl in front of a Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull statue, on International Women’s Day to coincide with the launch of the SHE Fund, a way for investors to back companies with gender diverse senior leadership. As the video below shows, shares continue to trade well, and the statue was allowed to stay put at a symbol of female empowerment.

The award program also recognized the work of the J. Walter Thompson Amsterdam office for creatively sharing the work of the Free a Girl Movement’s School for Justice, which is retraining children forced into prostitution as lawyers and public prosecutors to convict more child traffickers and rapists. While an estimated 1.2 million children are currently being exploited around the world, only about 50 cases a year end up being prosecuted. The campaign focused on the special motivation that survivors have to ensure the crimes aren’t repeated.

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Each of these campaigns was awarded a D&AD Black Impact Pencil—the organization’s trophy for “truly game-changing work,” which transcended any category in which they might have been submitted. The top finishers in each category were awarded White Pencil trophies for using creativity for good. You can learn more about those winners here.

“It’s an opportunity to shine a light on things that really matter that absolutely are changing and making a difference in people’s lives,” says Matt Scheckner, Advertising Week’s CEO. As Lindsay puts it, “Part of what we’re trying to encourage here in this sweet spot where the kind of commercial agenda and the sustainability agenda come together and become one and the same thing.”


Correction: This article has been corrected to accurately spell Advertising Week’s Matt Scheckner’s name and correct his title.

About the author

Ben Paynter is a senior writer at Fast Company covering social impact, the future of philanthropy, and innovative food companies. His work has appeared in Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the New York Times, among other places.

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