UN: Communicators can help save lives. Here's how

Complacency is an emergent threat.

We are still living in the midst of a pandemic. While in much of Europe the situation has begun to improve, globally it is worsening. The biggest risk we face is complacency. As some communities start to open up and others are only just starting to feel the brunt of this crisis, communicating the right messages can save lives.

While each of us has a role to play in protecting lives and stopping the spread of the virus, the advertising industry has an outsized responsibility to ensure creative communications drive the behaviour change we need in the world right now. Communicating the right message in the right way can be the difference between life and death.

That's why, for the first time ever, the United Nations launched a unique Open Brief for global creatives to help create fresh, innovative content for audiences around the world. In just two weeks, thousands of pieces of content were donated by creatives from 143 countries – an unbelievable testament to the solidarity across borders, cultures, industries and economies, and to the dedication of the creative community.

But now we need to get these messages out to the world. The power of creativity to shape behavior and habits, hopes and fears is undeniable. But this can only ever be realised when audiences experience the work themselves. So, today, our call to action is clear: we are asking brands, media owners, platforms, channels, distributors and influencers to step up, much like the creators and creatives, and help get this content everywhere.

The work is beautiful. People have donated their talent, time and creativity in service of friends, family and strangers near and far. The messages are powerful, drawn from evidence-based guidance from the UN’s global health agency, the World Health Organization, which is co-ordinating the global response to the pandemic. This work now lives on a dynamic content hub for use by any and all of us. It is a home for creative philanthropy.

Now we humbly ask you to take this creative, professional-grade content and use it however and wherever you have reach: global media platforms, brands’ unused ad inventory, TV, radio, print, billboards, digital, podcasts, right down to your company’s – and your own – social media accounts. Get the work out there.

We appreciate we are making this request at a time when people and businesses are being squeezed. But we’ve already seen the generosity and solidarity this pandemic has unleashed – in spontaneous applause for health workers; in stars giving time and talent to entertain us at home; in the more than 400,000 people and companies that have donated to the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO launched by the UN Foundation; and in the early-adopter brands and platforms that have already stepped forward and offered free space and airtime. Thank you. The world needs more.

Each of us has the power to limit the spread of the virus, minimise the strain on our health services, get our economies moving again and fight the spread of misinformation.

Visit unitednations.talenthouse.com to start using the work or get in touch via StrategyHub@un.org.

Dawda Jobarteh is global head of the sustainable development goals strategy hub at the United Nations

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