Social Issues May 6, 2013
UNICEF's New Ad Campaign: "Likes" Don't Save Lives

UNICEF in Sweden has a new ad campaign that is definitely bolder and more direct than your traditional charity appeal.

No soft sell here, this video gets right to the point and essentially calls out one form of online activism - the Facebook "like."

Of course, Facebook and other social media platforms have become an important tool for aid organizations to raise awareness and get the word out to a much bigger audience - something UNICEF Sweden officials acknowledge.

But they also make the point that "liking" a campaign is a nice way to support a cause but it doesn't save a life or feed someone.

So instead of clicking "like" or sharing something on social media, the ad bluntly suggests that people need to step up and give money.

UNICEF Sweden has released three ads - all designed to make the same point. But the most poignant one is at the top of the page. It features a 10-year-old boy, speaking directly to camera, about living with his little brother on their own.

"Sometimes I worry that I will get sick, like my mom got sick," the boy says in the ad. "But I think everything will be alright. Today, UNICEF Sweden has 177,000 likes on Facebook."

UNICEF Sweden has also released this poster as part of the campaign.


The other two ads are on the lighter side but the point is the same - Facebook "likes" don't buy vaccine (or anything else for that matter).

In the ad below, a man pays for his restaurant bill in "likes".

In this one, a man tries to buy a cashmere sweater the same way.

Each ad ends with the same tag line: "Vaccine[s] can't be bought with likes either."

"We like likes, and social media could be a good first step to get involved, but it cannot stop there," Petra Hallebrant, UNICEF Sweden's director of communications, told The Atlantic. "Likes don't save children's lives. We need money to buy vaccines for instance."

As The Atlantic writes, "it does raise interesting questions about how charity organizations should spread their messages online without allowing their potential donors to get stuck in slacktivist land, retweeting links and changing profile pictures without ever opening their wallets."

The campaign was created by ad agency Forsman & Bodenfors.


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