Entertainment > Audiovisual Branded Content


N=5, Amsterdam / KPN / 2018


Grand Prix Cannes Lions
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Evert_45: a boy who tells his story through social media, from the year 1945

A boy sharing his first-hand account of WWII with kids today, using the tools they live and breathe. What better way to let young people experience the reality of war and the value of freedom? During national liberation celebrations in the Netherlands, Evert_45 did just that.

Evert_45 is an immersive campaign played out as an ongoing series on Instagram, YouTube and evert45.com. Evert’s war story recounts his journey to find his brother in hiding after escaping a German labour camp. The narrative was carefully crafted from numerous insightful interviews with WWII eyewitnesses, historians and teachers.

The initiative was developed in response to a Dutch newspaper article featuring interviews with elderly resistance fighters who pleaded to keep their stories alive when they would no longer be around to tell them.


Real historical stories

Even though the character of Evert_45 is fictional, his story is based on true stories of ordinary Dutch people from the Second World War. Historical accuracy was safeguarded by historian Dr. J. Rosendaal. Further development was overseen by experts and stakeholders (e.g. veterans, teachers and the Dutch Resistance Museum).

Evert_45 vlogging like today

Evert_45 shares his story through his own YouTube and Instagram channels. His vlogs and posts reflect the visual language of young people and their interests (such as pranks and foodie posts), yet they also stay very close to his authentic experience and the historical context. Over a period of three weeks, Evert_45 shared 12 vlogs with a total of 54 minutes of video, as well as numerous posts and stories on Instagram. Frequency, duration and placement of his updates were adapted to how young people normally view vlogger content.


Young people watched 1.3 million minutes worth of history lessons

The story of Evert_45 reached 70% of young people, with 93% of them responding positively to the initiative. Within three weeks, young Dutch people voluntarily (!) watched over 1.3 million minutes of history lessons. Seeing this overwhelming response, teachers are now using Evert_45’s story in their lessons on WWII and Evert_45.com is due to be included in the Dutch school curriculum as of 2018.

The Evert_45 initiative also had a positive impact on brand image. Most think this is a valuable (87%) and credible (71%) initiative by KPN. Scores on relevant brand statements are significantly higher among those who recognise the campaign, with ‘KPN makes you feel free’ at 24% vs. 18% and ‘KPN adds value to society’ at 18% vs. 15%. A remarkable result, considering the short campaign period.


The stories from the Second World War are dying out. Literally. That’s why the last surviving resistance fighters made an emotional appeal in newspapers to keep their stories alive. With Evert_45, KPN found a way to connect today’s young generation to the generation that was young during WWII. Evert_45 is a boy who tells his story from 1945 using Instagram and Youtube. With great success: large numbers of young people clamoured for more and longer videos. Evert_45 became one of their YouTube idols. From the 4th vlog onwards, followers competed to comment ‘first’ when content was uploaded.


Speaking today’s language

Stories about the past often fail to engage younger generations. If we want to make sure these stories are passed on, we have to share them in the language of today, and through the channels young people use on a daily basis.

Collaboration with famous influencers

To reach young people, we collaborated with influencers on YouTube and Instagram who felt connected to the theme. They each created an item about freedom and Evert_45 – and shared it in their own format and on their own channel.

Phased approach

In the first phase of the campaign, we allowed the initiative to reach its potential among young people without any KPN branding. In the next phase we aimed our efforts at a broader audience. Now we made it known that KPN was behind the initiative. This approach helped us to establish credibility with both younger and older audiences.


Lessons from WWII: these stories must be passed on

Every year on May 4th and 5th, the Dutch commemorate the casualties of WWII, and celebrate their freedom. These are emotional days, and the personal stories of people who survived the war play a prominent role. But fewer and fewer eye-witnesses of the war are still alive. This means fewer people are able to engage new generations with their unique personal stories.

When we read a newspaper article in which war veterans reached out with a plea to pass on their stories, it got us thinking. It is KPN’s mission to connect people. So how could KPN connect those who are young today with those who were young during WWII and help to pass on their stories? And how could we let this reflect positively on the KPN brand – boosting its brand appeal?

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