PR > Digital & Social


GREY, London / UNITED NATIONS / 2019


Gold Cannes Lions
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Why is this work relevant for PR?

With next to no budget, we needed to make the world pay attention to one of the biggest decisions being made about our planet’s future, at a crucial UN summit that was in danger of being ignored.

To do this we needed to engage social communities to help spread our message that the UN was inviting the world’s people to have their say at COP24 on the biggest threat facing humanity: climate change. The ambition of The People’s Seat was to force leaders to act on climate change through the power of global community engagement.


The UN invited us to help them engage more people with their Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) through a new campaign. In principle, people agreed with the goals, but in reality they were confusing and difficult to navigate.

The complexity and lack of engagement with the SDG’s was symptomatic of the UN’s deeper problem. In a meeting with the Director General, we dug deeper and discussed the increasing disconnect between people and the UN. He led us to the founding UN Charter.

“We the Peoples of the United Nations”. These are the opening words of the UN charter, putting people at the centre.

The real problem was that despite best intentions, the UN was failing to engage people.

Our objective was clear: re-engage people with the UN by putting them back at the centre, to ensure a more effective effort to meet the SDG’s.

Describe the creative idea

The UN reported that we have 12 years before climate damage is irreversible. At this crucial time, we needed to create a movement that would give the world’s people a voice on this all important decision.

To do this we created The People’s Seat.

A new physical seat at the UN, representing the world’s people rather than a nation or a specific interest. This seat would give people the opportunity to share their views and opinions with World Leaders at moments in which important decisions that impact legislation are being made.

The People’s Address is a speech written by the people, crafted from their voice and raw testimonials, crowdsourced through our hashtag #TakeYourSeat – delivered at UN conferences where The People’s Seat is present.

Describe the PR strategy

Citizen engagement has fundamentally changed due to digital activism. We have seen a cultural shift to direct action & communication between people & politicians through social media. Our audience weren’t defined by demographics or geography, but are united by their desire to impact social change. They need to feel that they’re having their voices heard & shaping political decisions.

By launching The People’ Seat, the UN demonstrates that it’s an important platform for change & gives people a voice on the all-important issue of climate change.

We created a launch video in which Sir David Attenborough invites people to use #TakeYourSeat to have their voices heard, distributed across UN social channels & by a global network of influencers.

We issued launch assets to print titles and offered an exclusive interview with Sir David to BBC News. After the Address, streamed live via the UN’s Facebook page, we gave interviews with

Describe the PR execution

The campaign came in 2 phases – the launch (Nov. 21) and the People’s Address at COP24 (Dec. 3).

Phase One: we only had time to schedule one interview with Sir David, so we offered BBC News the exclusive. The BBC gave us unparalleled reach due to their international World Service and BBC World News (broadcast to 200 countries).

Using a global network of influencers, we spread #TakeYourSeat across social media and gathered content from communities around the world.

Phase Two: we had to maximise the impact of Sir David’s speech and draw attention to COP24.

We made the speech as newsworthy as possible, using crafted language and testimonials from people around the world. We also live-streamed it on Facebook to further reach our target audience.

Finally, we offered interviews with Sir David to key broadcasters, including BBC, CNN, CCTV (Chinese TV), Sky and Reuters.

List the results

1.3 billion people around the world saw proof of their voices being heard by world leaders at the UN.

• We made headline news in over 200 countries, and on the hour for all BBC global channels across TV, online and radio

• Almost half of Amanpour’s hour long show was dedicated to The People’s Seat.

• Over 1,600 articles and 500 pieces of broadcast news covered The People’s Seat globally, including China’s CCTV, the BBC, CNN, Sky News, Reuters – even Fox News covered it positively. ?

• The campaign was referenced by UK Prime Minister and in the Australian Parliament.

• Our launch video received 9.3 million impressions on the UNFCCC‘s Facebook page in the first week.?

• Seen by over 7 million people on Facebook for 10 seconds or more.

• Over 500,000 people watched the speech live. ?

• @UNFCCC gained over 25,000 followers during COP24 (versus 2k during COP23 in 2017) – an increase of 1,250%.?

Tier 2:

• Fuelled entirely by our influencer network, 128,000 people participated in our social polls used to gather people’s voices across Instagram and Twitter

• The People’s Seat Address was live-streamed on December 3. By December 15, the UN delivered the impact people needed to see: a 156-page rulebook putting the Paris Agreement promises to work was agreed by nearly 200 countries. ?

• The UN had not only showed people that their

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