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 guerilla group operating in Colombia. Under the Colombian Ministry of Defence’s Humanitarian Demobilisation Programme, Bogotá agency Lowe/SSP3 was given the brief of encouraging its 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? The agency claims to have achieved the demobilisation of one FARC guerrilla every six hours between December and January. On December 23, 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. Did any other D&AD entrant achieve anything so worthwhile last year?
Black Pencil 2012. Winner: Lowe/SSP3, Colombia
Project: Rivers of Light
Client: Colombian Ministry of Defence, Humanitarian Demobilisation Programme
Category: Direct/Direct Response/Ambient
Art Director: Carlos Andres Rodriguez Monroy
Copywriter: Mario Lagos Sergio Leon
Creative Director: Jaime Duque
Executive Creative Director: Jose Miguel Sokoloff
Advertising Agency: Lowe/SSP3
Account Handler: Emiliano Arango Juan Pablo García