Peace through technology

Times have been tough in 2016, but the advertising world has been looking for innovative ways of helping those in need.

by Mark Tungate , MAYDREAM

The festive season is just around the corner, so it’s the time of year when we traditionally start thinking about peace on earth and goodwill to all. Although the two have been rare in 2016, adland has been more committed than ever to “doing good”.

One of the year’s most award-winning campaigns was the “McWhopper” initiative from Y&R New Zealand, for the organization Peace One Day, which encouraged McDonald’s and Burger King to call a truce with a new menu item. 


Reminding us that we live in a world of plenty can also be an effective way of forcing us to think about others. KFC in the Philippines literally removed food from its menu to raise awareness of starving children. It may have been a one-off stunt, but it achieved longevity as an online film.

The fate of children from conflict zones – particularly Syria – has been one of the year’s biggest flashpoints. This animated web film for UNICEF, by 180LA, packs an emotional punch without being preachy. The twist at the end may just break your heart.

The hardest thing about encouraging individuals to strive for peace is convincing them that they can make a difference. That’s the goal of MasterPeace and its Be A Nelson campaign (a reference to Nelson Mandela). Nelsons are those who give not money, but work, time and even just empathy to those in need.

Amnesty International has frequently inspired powerful ads. In a year when the eyes of the world were on the United States, this one asks a question: what kind of America do you believe in?

Evoking past conflicts can raise awareness of those in the present. At the Warsaw Rising Museum in Poland, an interactive installation called Quantum of Peace uses spent cartridges to spell out figures capturing the tragedy of war. It was created for the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in Europe.

You’re no doubt ready for a touch of humour now. While a referendum threw an historic peace deal with Colombian guerrillas into doubt, this online film tackled the issue of conflict in an original and surprising way.

And with that, we wish you a happy and above all peaceful 2017.