Rivers of Light wins sole D&AD Black Pencil

D&AD has awarded just one Black Pencil this year, its ultimate award. The prize goes to Colombian agency Lowe/SSP3 for Rivers of Light, a campaign to encourgae the demobilisation of FARC guerrillas

D&AD has awarded just one Black Pencil this year. The prize, D&AD’s highest honour, goes to Colombian agency Lowe/SSP3 for Rivers of Light, a campaign to encourgae the demobilisation of FARC guerrillas

The award was announced last night at a gala celebration of D&AD’s 50th birthday (of which, more soon).

Not many ad agency briefs aim to tackle something as important as the demobilisation of a guerrilla army. Founded in 1964, FARC is the oldest and largest left-wing guerrilla group operating in Colombia. Under the Colombian Ministry of Defence’s Humanitarian Demobilisation Programme, Bogotá agency Lowe/SSP3 was given the brief of encouraging FARC members to give up their arms, leave the jungle and return to their families.

“We based our strategy on two facts,” the agency says. “We found out that Christmas is the most emotional and hard time for guerrillas, because it’s when they feel furthest from their families and their loved ones. Also, as the guerrillas don’t use any of the traditional media, rivers have become their most important channels of communication and transportation. Every FARC base camp is built close to a river.”

So, the agency decided to use rivers as a means of delivering messages, letters and gifts at Christmas, which were sent inside waterproof capsules which lit up at night. “The President of Colombia and the Colombian people joined the campaign. We gathered 6,823 messages, inviting them to reflect on their situation, and to light their way back home,” Lowe/SSP3 says.

Did it work? It’s very difficult to say. The agency claims to have achieved the demobilisation of one FARC guerrilla every six hours between December and January, but how much is this down to the campaign and how much is it a reflection of the more general peace process taking place? On December 23, the agency says, an important FARC leader demobilised bringing nine more guerrillas with him as well as equipment. The agency also claims a significant rise in the number of under-18s demobilising as a result of its campaign. Again, other analysts might take a different view on how ‘significant’ those increases are and what caused them. But even if the campaing was only one of a number of contributory factors leading to demobilisation, how many other D&AD entrants achieved anything so worthwhile last year?


Agency: Lowe/SSP3
Art Director: Carlos Andres Rodriguez Monroy
Copywriter: Mario Lagos Sergio Leon
Creative Director: Jaime Duque
Executive Creative Director: Jose Miguel Sokoloff
Account Handlers: Emiliano Arango Juan Pablo García

  • I guess they chose not to fly over in a plane because it would get shot down? Nice idea but the concept is based on like 99% of all D&AD winners ‘Fiction’. Would like to get my hands on one of those though… *****

  • Martin

    If nothing else I’m sure they’d make good target practice.

  • Rob

    Lovely idea — now what we need is ideas like this to go out to all military, all over the world, to encourage them to stop fighting all these senseless wars.