Cannes Lions

Emergency Lessons


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Young Europeans take school for granted. So, we’d give them some unforgettable lessons. A series of seven short films that fuse documentary making with social thinking. Each follows the lives of children living through disaster, in Ukraine, Nepal, Guinea and Iraq.

All the children we met were proud to share their school with the world – a place that gives them security, friendship and hope. At the end of each film, the children gave a simple social assignment, from sharing an old school photo, to nominating a best friend or teacher from school.

The stories would be used as social content as well as form part of a teaching pack to be used in the classrooms of junior and senior schools. And ultimately would be broadcast in front of the European Parliament.


The campaign launched in conjunction with the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 and the seven #EmergencyLessons videos were released, one every month (with a summer holiday break in August!) from May to December, leading up to a closing event in the European Parliament. These were targeted to seven European markets, based on countries where UNICEF and ECHO had existing partnerships relating to education in emergencies: Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, and the UK.

To amplify our key messages and create assets for educational use – both in and outside the classroom, we created:

* Campaign website – global and 7 national versions

* Youth Summit engagement programme and training

* Schools pack for junior and senior schools

* Supporting social media posts for each video story with online distribution model

* Press release for global distribution

* Ambassador engagement guide

* 7 video responses by Tom Hiddleston


The fusion of documentary making and social thinking resulted in a global celebration of school, engaging everyone from young people to teachers, celebrities and influential politicians. #EmergencyLessons reached over 700 million impressions across social channels alone, and was covered by more than 50 major digital and broadcast media news outlets.

There were 83,000 mentions across social channels: thousands of people shared school photos, nominated their favourite teacher, best school friends, their favourite subject, and more, including celebrities such as Liam Neeson, Robert Downey Junior and Mark Ruffalo, and high-profile politicians such as Jean-Claude Juncker.

A total of 699 European schools took part, using our school packs and the films as educational resources to teach lessons about the importance of education in emergencies.

During the campaign, the European Union announced it would increase the education share of its aid funding in 2017 to 6% – six times higher than in 2014.

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