Health and Wellness > Education & Services


FCB INFERNO, London / PEARSON / 2016


Grand Prix Cannes Lions
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The Alphabet of Illiteracy brings together the problems illiteracy is proven to cause, with the solution.

The campaign juxtaposes the shocking reality of illiteracy with the childlike aesthetic of the alphabet, the foundation of literacy. The visually impactful approach is designed to be highly salient online and the contrast is designed to create a sense of unease to provoke a reaction and move illiteracy up the agenda.

It centers on the core film, for which we repurposed Perry Como’s “A, you’re Adorable” song, replacing the original innocent lyrics with the chilling consequences of illiteracy.

Each letter of the alphabet is brought to life with a figure of a person affected by a problem that illiteracy is proven to cause. Each link is proven by credible institutional research, available on the website. While there, they are asked to share the campaign and sign a petition, to show support for increased literacy.


The Alphabet campaign launched on 23rd February with the release of the film via a number of seeding platforms across the US and UK. At the same time, model and activist Lily Cole launched the campaign with a rousing address at the Houses of Parliament.

Activity was designed to drive the conversation about illiteracy and viewers were encouraged to ‘spread the word’ and share the film. They were encouraged to sign the petition and generate their name using letters of our alphabet as a show of support in social. We also targeted key influencers with DM and merchandise.

We created 26 letter posts and gifs explaining individual letters that ran all over social media, achieving real visual standout. The campaign was designed to provoke debate so we actively managed the conversation in social to reinforce key points.

The campaign also utilised PR, cinema and print advertising to extend the reach.


- The campaign has created an entirely new conversation around illiteracy and one that lands the surprisingly negative impact it is having on the world.

- Project Literacy has 44 partners delivering Literacy programmes across the world. Funding to these programmes is, in part, driven by the success of the campaign.

- Over 6.5 million film views across platforms

- Completed view rate twice the industry benchmark.

- 35,000 shares of the film

- 14,000 signatures and shares of unique names including Richard Branson and David Gandy

- 186 media articles including CNN, BBC, Channel Four, Times and Guardian

- Total audience reach of 462million across social and PR

- Traffic to partner websites up by 200%

- Project Literacy have been invited to sit on the UN Global Alliance for Literacy which puts improved literacy at the heart of achieving the Global Development Goals


The Alphabet of Illiteracy campaign for Project Literacy is a fully integrated campaign. It launched simultaneously with an online film and event at the Houses of Parliament with a significant PR push behind it. There is an online hub with more detail that allows you to participate in the campaign. The Alphabet was designed to be highly salient in social media and played out across multiple channels. The campaign was supported by cinema advertising, print and online display. There was also a DM piece that went to influencer including cards and merchandise.


Although 1 in 10 people worldwide are illiterate, being unable to read or write is unfathomable for the majority of us because we learn so early. We think it is the inability to read a book, but it is much more devastating.

Imagine not being able to read the back of your child’s medicine bottle.

The UN has proven illiteracy underpins most major societal problems including many health issues. Improved literacy can positively impact issues such as AIDs, the spread of Ebola and other contagious diseases, Infant Mortality, Malnutrition and Life Expectancy.

Our strategy was to land this link in a way that could not be ignored or forgotten and get people to sit up and take notice of illiteracy. We would drive a conversation among the millennial audience in the USA and UK, because they have the loudest share of voice online and the biggest propensity to give charitably.


Worldwide, 757 million people are illiterate. That’s a population the size of a continent whose true potential remains dormant, or simply put, it means that 1 in every 10 people cannot read or write a single sentence.

Project Literacy is the flagship CSR programme of Pearson, the world’s biggest learning company. Through Project Literacy, Pearson has convened a large group of literacy NGOs, and aim to use their power as a brand to help these partners make significant and sustainable advances in the fight against illiteracy.

Despite the scale of the problem, illiteracy barely registers on the global agenda; people think illiteracy means the inability to read a book or write a letter but the impact is far more fundamental than that. Our brief was to raise awareness of the impact of illiteracy and create a conversation that can start to drive a real difference.

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