Cannes Lions

Write for Rights

COSSETTE, Montreal / AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL / 2021

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Overview

Background

Year after year, Amnesty International uses the power of words to help free unjustly imprisoned people, inviting millions to write letters and make a difference. Over the past 20 years, 127 of the 169 people who were the focus of Amnesty’s campaigns have been released from prison, representing a 75% release rate.

Idea

We reminded people that the small act of writing can have a big impact—it can change lives. Using the universally understood symbol of the pencil, the visuals highlight real-life situations in which the most basic rights have been violated: from the right to protest and the right to live in safety to freedom of the press and the right to a fair trial.

Strategy

To deal with a topic like human rights, we preferred to opt for a warm, positive and colourful approach. The visuals illustrate some of the specific cases of this year's Write for Rights campaign: those of Melike Balkan and Özgür Gür, the three refugees from El Hiblu, the journalist Khaled Drareni, as well as Nassima Al Sada, a human rights activist who has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

Execution

This vision was made possible by the valuable collaboration between Cossette and Owen Gent, a world-renowned illustrator based in the UK whose aesthetic is similar to painting. His drawings are luminous, vibrant and emotionally charged.

The campaign was then deployed through an out-of-home and print campaign in the big centres of the province of Quebec, thanks to the generous support of media partners. Many of the participants of the writing marathon were also reached through a major coverage by online media.

Outcome

Because of the public health measures in place, each campaign piece encouraged people to take part in the write-a-thon online. We generated a 38% increase in the number of emails sent compared to last year. And real pressure was put on various governments, surpassing our expectations. Khaled Drareni, a journalist jailed in Algeria whose cause we championed this year, was freed. Plus, there was a notable uptick in legal proceedings to liberate the unjustly imprisoned around the world. The fight continues.

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