Cannes Lions

Cursing Parrots

UNICEF, New York / UNICEF / 2018


1 Bronze Cannes Lions
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Online films of swearing parrots are widely shared and often get millions of views on social platforms. We tapped into the virality of this social trend, to ensure UNICEF's important message reached as many people as possible. Using unmanipulated footage of real swearing parrots, we created our own version of this video theme. In our film, we watch domestic parrots repeating vulgar language they have heard in their homes. At first this seems humorous, but then the language begins to feel increasingly abusive. This is then resolved with a copyline: If a parrot can remember what happens in an abusive home, imagine a child.


The film was posted online during the first week of November 2017, launching UNICEF's study on childhood exposure to violence. It was placed across all of UNICEF's global social channels, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. We suspected these social platforms would restrict paid promotion of the film, for its violent language. But we also knew that swearing parrot videos are shared on social, and thus allowed people to begin the sharing for us, gaining the film and UNICEF's study large organic reach.


The campaign goal was to spread awareness around UNICEF's study and its findings, and get people talking, to help protect children into the future. Without paid promotion, our film raced to 4.5 million organic views. This helped spark a global conversation around the study and the effects of childhood exposure to violence. The campaign hashtag, #EndViolence, became a worldwide trending topic during the week of launch. The campaign and UNICEF's study got 1200 major media mentions within 24 hours of launch. UNICEF's website for violence prevention got 2500% more visits than the previous campaign. And we got the world talking about a different victim of domestic violence. The witness.

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