Become Your Own Creative Agency: The Backstory of UN Environment’s #BeatPollution Campaign

Those of you in the creative space know that innovative ideas come to life in the most unexpected manner. You also know that to get the creative juice going, you need to first diverge to then converge.

The divergence stage is about putting ideas on the table and not being non-judgmental. And guess what, it is inevitably your very own people and those in the trenches who come up with brilliant and creative ideas.

This is the backstory of UN Environment’s #BeatPollution campaign.

One bright day, the boss asked us to come up with an engaging, public-facing campaign to raise awareness about various dimensions of pollution. With a small budget, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. And guess what, that was the beginning of many creative sessions and iterations that resulted in a citizen engagement with over 2 million commitments to #BeatPollution.

The campaign’s secret sauce

Embracing and nurturing the power and beauty of internal resources definitely made the difference. From the get go, this was a totally “in-sourced” campaign. It was exclusively powered by the creative juice of our own colleagues.

They came up with #BeatPollution hashtag; they came up with the information architecture for the website; they came up with the gamification; they came up with the citizen commitments; they came up with the overall look and feel of the campaign; they designed and implemented the website; they created the compelling social copy; they crafted the engaging pollution-related stories; they developed the story board for the infographics; they developed the brand identity; they strategically made this a digital-first campaign; they intelligently used social media to push out the content; they created all the cool videos and shout-outs; they forged partnerships with other entities and organizations to amplify our messages; they worked with programme colleagues to get the facts and figures; they pitched the stories…

In a nutshell THEY were the CREATIVE AGENCY.

In-sourcing the creative process meant that we did not have to adopt someone else’s blueprint. It meant we did not break the bank; it meant project management was done through team work; it meant everyone took ownership of the project; it meant we could adopt an iterative process, it meant we could adjust and tweak the campaign based on metrics and audience feedback.

Our own elbow grease allowed us to have full-control over the campaign which put us in a vantage position to swiftly make the necessary changes and respond to new and unforeseen needs.

Lessons learnt

Next time you are embarking on a public-facing initiative, start at home-base, and look inside before venturing out. Give your own folks the space and opportunity to unleash their creative juice. You will end up with a super sleek product which everyone owns, you will not break the bank, you’ll boost morale, you’ll create an opportunity for cross-functional interaction and team work and most importantly you’ll end up giving an immense job satisfaction to your very own people. Become your own creative agency and sharpen the skillset of your own folks by challenging and exposing them to unchartered territories.

If you happen to be a one-man band, do not despair. Remember you are not alone. There are many creative folks in the UN Social 500 network who are willing and able to act as your creative agency. What you need to do, is just reach out. You’ll definitely find an extended hand on the other side that can help you with your campaign!!!!

Good luck and make sure you visit and make your commitment to #BeatPollution

Roxanna Samii

Chief Digital Strategy at UN Environment

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