Noble Lies

Ever told a white lie for the greater good? This collection includes five pieces of work that used trickery to spotlight a range of social issues, including illiteracy, gender inequality and mental health.

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Illiterate Ads | Pepco | VMLY&R, Bucharest | 2023

Discount retail chain Pepco ran a World Literacy Day ad littered with spelling mistakes – and collected the backlash online. The twist? The ads had been written by children with poor literacy skills. The mistakes triggered more than 370,000 reactions and reached more than 5 million people, showing how to use online outrage to spur action.
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The Fake News Stand | Columbia Journalism Review | TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York | 2019

To teach people how to spot fake news, nonprofit organisation Columbia Journalism Review put sensationalist headlines from the internet on the covers of newspapers and magazines at a New York City newsstand. It reached more than 2 billion people in over 100 countries. It shows how to use fakery to capture an elusive audience.
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WoMen’s Football | Orange | Marcel, Paris | 2023

Telco Orange tricked people into watching women’s football by swapping the faces of women football players with the men’s squad. Winner of three Grands Prix at Eurobest 2023, it attracted more than 2bn impressions. Film Jury President Kate Stanners, Chairwoman and Global Chief Creative Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi, said: “This took a fresh approach to storytelling by revealing the trickery within the piece. That felt very appropriate for a tech business like Orange.”
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L’Eau de Chris | Campaign Against Living Miserably | BMB, London | 2018

British mental health charity CALM announced the launch of a mineral water infused with reality star Chris Hughes’s tears – then used the press conference to reveal its true aim: to ask men not to bottle up their feelings. It led to a 1800% increase in traffic from 18–24-year-olds and doubled the number of suicides prevented through CALM’s webchat in the month of the campaign. It shows how an outrageous approach can help tackle serious issues.
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14 Is Not OK | Estonian Sexual Health Association | Optimist, Tallinn | 2022

To highlight the dangers of a low legal age of sexual consent, the Estonian Sexual Health Association published a fake interview of a 14-year-old girl and her 54-year-old lover. It earned more than 1m impressions – and convinced the government to raise the age of consent to 16. It shows how to use shock tactics to fight against inaction.
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