UNICEF and Snapchat Join Forces to Help #BringBackOurChildhood


Unicef hashtag

One year ago, more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria, were kidnapped by Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram—and they still remain missing and unaccounted for. It sparked a global social media campaign, #BringBackOurGirls.

To extend the campaign for the 800,000 children who have been displaced in northeast Nigeria, UNICEF just announced a new campaign with the hashtag #BringBackOurChildhood.

The campaign coincides with the release of UNICEF’s new report, “Missing Childhoods: The impact of armed conflict on children in Nigeria and beyond,” which it’s also promoting on Tumblr and Medium.

Its most interesting non-owned digital platform for the campaign: Snapchat, the ephemeral social platform in which messages and images disappear. The youth-centric app is a fitting partner to raise awareness about the plight of these children and teenagers.

The campaign uses Snapchat’s disappearing image service to share images from leading Snapchat artists such as Shonduras based on drawings by children in Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

The Snapchat stories highlight what these displaced children miss about home and what they’ve endured as a result.

It’s a major deal for Snapchat, which is fine-tuning its now six-month-old ad model. It’s dispensing with sponsored stories as it seeks more creative ways—such as this UNICEF campaign—to engage its brand partners and fickle user base.

“This move is probably just growing pains,” commented Ben Winkler, COO of Omnicom’s OMD media group, to Re/code about the shift away from the “brand stories” ad unit.

“Snapchat, like social platforms before it, is making the bumpy transition from startup to big media company. Ad products—and the clients who love them—are often affected by that change.”

Advertisers have been paying up to $100,000 a day for ads on Snapchat, and UNICEF is betting it’s the right platform for brands and consumers to step-up and help with #BringBackOurChildhood.

Unicef drawing

The public is being asked to participate. Snapchat users can send @UNICEF a snap showing what they would miss the most if forced to leave their home. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users can also participate.

In an outreach marking the one-year anniversary of the missing girls, Malala Yousafzai, recipient of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize, published an open letter to the Chibok girls that begins, “Like you, I was a target of militants who did not want girls to go to school.”  The 17-year-old survived an attack by the Taliban for blogging about the importance of staying in school.

“Remember that one day your tragic ordeal will end, you will be reunited with your families and friends, and you will have the chance to finish the education you courageously sought,” continued Yousafzai. “Until then, stay strong, and never lose hope. You are my heroes.”

Unicef drawing