Australia’s illiteracy problem exposed in mock film trailer from Emotive, Google and the UN

A message about Australia’s illiteracy problem has been disguised in a film trailer.

The campaign uses YouTube’s ad sequencing tool, and starts out with a user being served a combination of short teaser films to build intrigue for a 60-second film trailer. Those who skipped the trailer are then put on a path of being served follow up films in which the protagonist’s situation worsens. For users who watched the full trailer, they are served a new ad in which the protagonist gets saved from her plane wreck.

To those who can’t read, the content piece would appear to be a film trailer. It is the on screen words which reveal the extent of Australia’s problem.

The campaign supports the UN’s global goals for sustainable development, one of which is access to quality education. In Australia, over half a million people between 15 and 18-years-old are illiterate.

Simon Joyce, CEO and founder of Emotive, said tackling the issue of illiteracy was a proud moment for the agency.

“We are incredibly proud to be partnering with Google and the United Nations to shine a light on some of the shortcomings of the education system in this country. Education liberates the intellect, unlocks the imagination and is fundamental to self-respect. Of course, none of that is possible without the simple requirement of literacy, something that a surprising number of Australians struggle with. We hope that this campaign can spark critical discussion that leads to change,” Joyce said.

Agency group creative director, Ben Clare, added the campaign both addresses the issue and demonstrates how it can escalate.

“We wanted to draw attention to the goal by way of a simple demonstration, and by making people empathise with the problem. The idea was to draw viewers in with a movie trailer – one of YouTube’s most searched categories. Only ours contained a hidden message about illiteracy. To illiterate audiences, it was seen as a dramatic film trailer. To anyone who can read, we created a stark reminder of the difference quality education can make in people’s lives,” he said.

Emotive also put together a case study explaining the course of the campaign which can be viewed here:

Fiona Walford, head of creative development for Google Australia, said the campaign highlights the storytelling capabilities of YouTube.

“We were looking for best-in-class global agencies – leaned into YouTube, with proven credentials, and great client examples on the platform – to showcase the possibilities of creating sequential stories on Youtube.”

The ‘Trojan Trailer’ films were produced by Good Oil Films. Director, Michelle Savill was committed to making it look as much like a real film trailer as possible.

“I wanted people to really think they were watching a trailer, so it had to have scale. Getting a plane out to the dunes and shooting under a summer sun was challenging in the best way and worth it for the spectacular visuals. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved,” Savill said.


Creative Agency: Emotive
Group Creative Director – Ben Clare
Managing Partner and Head of Strategy – Michael Hogg
Designer – Alex King
Business Director – Sarah Clifton
Head of Distribution – Jamie Crick
CEO – Simon Joyce

Production Company: Good Oil
Director – Michelle Savill
Producer – Amanda Yu
Executive Producer – Andrew McLean
Executive Producer – Sam Long
D.O.P – Jason White
Editor – Dan Kircher
Production Designer – Cherith Crozier

Post Production:

Cam Ballantyne


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