The UN said, “You have the power to change the world.” And we had nine days to do it.
In March, the United Nations (UN) put a global call-out to creatives to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The brief was to create critical public health messages to engage and inform people across different cultures, languages, communities, and platforms.
Our (now fully remote) Denver and London teams put on their best creative and collaborative hats to brainstorm, decide on, develop, and upload authentic localized creative for ten international markets. With the hope of being shortlisted and our creative talent used to reach audiences across the globe, we got to work.
LANGUAGE OF KINDNESS
There were six key messages in the UN brief to choose from:
- Personal hygiene
- Physical distancing
- Know the symptoms
- Spread kindness
The Spread Kindness message was an instinctive choice for us because it chimed with our values and culture. While our marketing localization experience tells us kindness can look the same in every country, the challenge was to illustrate the international concept, sensitively and meaningfully.
At Wordbank, we’re passionate about helping our clients adapt global messaging so it resonates locally. Drawing on our unique combination of creative talent, cultural insight, and marketing aptitude, we were inspired to design a universal “Language of Kindness” with the right mix of content, language, and culture.
CONTENT THAT WORKS
Given the tight deadline, we had to quickly develop content that would work in multiple countries. We chose the simple instruction “Be Kind” – to yourself and others – by staying home, staying connected, and staying strong. We wanted to challenge the idea that we’re stuck at home. Instead, we’re being kind by protecting others as we stay home.
Our amazing design team, who have extensive experience in developing original international creative, suggested a superhero concept. This was the perfect way to depict staying home to protect others, staying in touch, and staying strong. These are heroic acts we can all relate to.
LANGUAGE THAT INSPIRES
With the creative concept locked down, we turned our attention to language. We selected ten languages from the eighteen in the UN’s brief: US English, Mexican Spanish, German, French, Italian, Arabic, Hindi, Thai, Japanese, and Turkish. And we reached out to our in-country linguists for help with translation and adaptation.
Ambitions running high and for maximum visual impact, we agreed on a multilingual and multicultural GIF format. Each GIF would cycle through the acts of kindness in one language, with a master GIF going through all ten languages. Our superhero and the backdrop would change depending on the country.
CULTURE THAT CONNECTS
Knowing how important it is for international creative to be developed in context, we shared the work-in-progress gifs with our in-country linguists and entered into multiple rounds of improvements. “Too many skyscrapers,” “No dogs, thank you,” “Skin tone is off,” “The flag shouldn’t be shown in this way,” “Tone of voice too formal.” With each copy or visual change, our designers adjusted the layout to fit.
We worked around the clock to shorten, simplify, and share again, until the blend of content, language, and culture was spot on.
THE RESULTS ARE IN
From the thousands of artists who worked to support the UN’s fight against COVID-19, we are delighted that 9 of our 10 GIFs were shortlisted.
We’re proud of the Wordbank can-do attitude, and inter-office teamwork that made an ambitious deadline possible. Of our linguists who freely gave their time to support us. Of the decades of marketing localization expertise, knowledge, and curiosity we harness to create global content that works – and wows. And above all, that we were able to play our part in the global fight against COVID-19.
We’re honored to have supported the UN’s efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus. And we’re grateful for this opportunity to contribute what we do best in service of what we value most: people, planet, and business as a force for good.