Campaign Review: campaigns for a cause

In Campaign Review, Mumbrella invites the industry's creatives and strategists to offer their views on recent ad campaigns. For this week's Campaign Review, Mumbrella asked 303 Mullenlowe Perth's Richard Berney and DDB Sydney's Josh Manning to take a look at two local UN campaigns, created by The Monkeys for UN Women Australia, and from BMF for Australia for UNHCR.

Brand: UN Women Australia

Campaign: Equality: Our Final Frontier 

Agency: The Monkeys, part of Accenture Song

The verdict: An intelligent new angle on the gender inequality conversation, too subtle in some moments



Richard Berney, executive creative director at 303 Mullenlowe Perth, gave it an 8/10, saying:

Although it’s ultimately a tragic story, ‘Equality: Our Final Frontier’ shows how capable and ambitious the human race is. This is what I love about this idea, how possible it is to change the current state of gender inequality if we truly focused on it.

My hesitation with the idea is how intelligent it is. That is, it’s very heavy on logic – spending a lot of time getting to the heart via the head.

In the end, I’m scoring it highly because it answered a very difficult brief with a strong, elegant ad that has stayed with me. Gender inequality is a very crowded conversation, and this idea has found a new way to stay relevant and motivate participation.

Josh Manning, strategy director at DDB Sydney, gave it an 8/10, saying:

I have to say that from start to finish, this second instalment of ‘When will she be right?’ is great. The original work was good, but this definitely feels like step up. It’s built on such a powerful and truly shocking truth – which has me, as one of the main beneficiaries of gender inequality, feeling uncomfortable, a little ashamed, and wanting to do something about it.

Which is a nice segue into target audience. I like that this campaign is going after allies and looking to turn them into advocates, rather than going hard at rejectors. It’s a smart move, because if you can get all the guys who are quietly pro-equality to be loudly pro-equality, then social proofing will get to work on the laggards, making them easier to nudge forward next time. Considering this target audience, playing into the male obsession with tech and future gazing becomes an effective way to draw the audience into the issue.

As for the execution, I love the craft (yes, strategists can appreciate craft). I love it when creatives get strategic about things like treatment so I’m secretly hoping the futuristic, dystopian, anime vibe was a deliberate decision to draw the audience in. If I have a critique on the film, it’s that some of the detail is a little too subtle. It takes watching it a few times, and really paying attention, to take it all in – the quietness of the wolf-whistle at the end is probably the best example of this. It’s impactful when you pick it up, but so quiet that I missed it the first couple of times.

Even more than the film, I love the OOH. Back-to-basics, attention-grabbing headline trickery that draws the audience in and then hits them with the key point of the campaign. The art of getting people’s attention is often overlooked nowadays, given everyone is obsessing over the perfect message they want to incept into the brains of unwitting consumers. I won’t go into detail about my misgivings with what I call the “cult of messaging”, but I will say there’s a fat chance in hell of getting your message across if people aren’t even looking at your billboard.

If there’s one thing missing – at least based on the press release – it’s that there’s not an earned or social element. I get that it’s naturally newsworthy given the WEF report content, but I would have loved to see some great social or influencer content to help foster conversation and sharing. It might be there, just not in the press release – I really hope that’s the case. It feels like a missed opportunity both in terms of kickstarting more conversations around the issue, and for the benefit of the agencies involved given clients increased focus on truly integrated thinking.


Brand: Australia for UNHCR

Campaign: The Reluctant Shanty 

Agency: BMF

The verdict: Strategically strong and highly emotive




Richard gave it a 9/10, saying:

I think this is a really special idea. I found it moving, and allowed it in.

Ye ol’ shanty format invites participation, fondness, and a rare chance for ‘strong men’ to be artful. The agency has spun this precious format – and they’ve done it with such a deft touch. I am in this. I’m in their world, the direction is intimate and real. The song is inarguable – it gets under my skin. ‘The Reluctant Shanty’ is a remarkable idea that changes my perception of what a refugee may be. It has been executed by a lot of people who have taken a lot of time and care to do the subject justice.

Josh gave it an 8/10, saying:

I feel like evaluating this campaign starts with who they’re targeting. I’d assume they aren’t going after that group of people who still seem to think people smugglers are running a budget cruise line, though some might think the line suggests that’s the case.

Given BMF’s reputation for strategic rigour, my money says they’re looking to drive renewed salience amongst an already sympathetic audience, whilst also seeking to future-proof their donation base with a particular focus on building awareness and consideration with a younger audience (hello, TikTok). It’s a smart double move as it provides a nudge to their donor heartland as well as a focus on building for the future.

The smarts don’t end there, either. By partnering sea shanties’ moment in internet culture with the cause, they’re driving conversation and valuable earned media. And, by explicitly depicting the experience and emotion of each person – a well-trodden, but extremely effective technique in these kinds of campaigns – they’re fostering the kind of emotional connection that will nudge others towards donation. They have nailed a nice angle when it comes to appealing to our admiration of those who demonstrate resilience and courage, and by emphasising the uncertainty and fear refugees face in these extremely dangerous crossings, make you wonder about how horrible what they’re running from must be”.

Creating a piece of music is another shrewd manoeuvre given the recent evidence of how music with melody grabs attention and builds memory – something I’m sure was not lost on the strategists when it came to helping sell this idea in. Both the film and TikTok executions of the shanty are beautiful, and quite haunting. It seems my creative gripes are all about sound today, as I feel the lyrics get a bit lost in the mix amongst the wind and rain of the last scene, which limits their emotional impact a little.

The campaign is nicely rounded out with a visually appealing but very functional micro-site (yes, that’s a compliment). Given the exorbitant amount of brand babble you’re often made to endure on these kinds of campaign hubs, it’s refreshing to see something so to the point.

The site does highlight the issue everyone seems to be on the fence about with this campaign (at least amongst ad people), that being the focus on naming ‘The Reluctant Sea Shanty’. It does leave you wondering, when there are lives at risk, should they have gone a more direct route and been less creatively indulgent?

It’s a fine line, but I get why they’ve done it. NFP budgets – even with donated media – are never huge and there’s a need to balance getting eyeballs on the work and the emotional impact of the work itself. Creating and naming the shanty gives them something that packages up nicely for PR and drives conversation in social. Overall, it might not be as shocking or authentic as a more direct approach to the creative, but it still packs a punch. Given BMF’s track record, I’d back this to hit the right balance between reach, attention and the emotional impact needed to succeed.


As told to Kalila Welch. If you’re a senior creative or strategist who would like to take part in a future Campaign Review, please email


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