When a country and its people become 'unavailable'

A conversation with the creative minds behind BBDO's new campaign for Rode Kruis-Vlaanderen.

Some songs by big artists like Ed Sheeran, Years & Years or Tame Impala have gotten brand new music videos. Videos in which the original footage, largely shot in Ukraine, has disappeared. Because with the conflict raging there, a lot of people and infrastructure are at risk of disappearing too. With that action, BBDO and Rode Kruis-Vlaanderen want to put the victims back at the heart of the conversation. 

Loup and Louise are the creative duo who came up with the idea for BBDO’s latest campaign for Rode Kruis-Vlaanderen. Or for the victims of the conflict in Ukraine, we should say. Patricia, Head of RTV at BBDO, joins the conversation too. This campaign was the result of an exceptionally close collaboration between the creation and RTV departments. “Five minutes after we had the idea, we were talking about it with Patricia. It was a close collaboration from there,” says Loup.

So what happened five minutes before? How was the idea born?  

Louise: ‘We got to talking with some people from a production agency. They were explaining how they had shot a music video in Ukraine just before the conflict started. That got us thinking: maybe Ukraine is a place where a lot of video productions are made. For the music industry, but also for advertising. And that hypothesis turned out to be right. A lot of video productions, including films, are shot in Ukraine, because of the very diverse landscapes, but also the expertise and crews, talent there.’

Loup: But of course with the current conflict in Ukraine, and all the destruction that comes with it, shooting those videos would not be possible today. And because the situation has been going on for some time now, we agreed that the right way to generate renewed attention for the conflict in Ukraine, was to literally delete Ukraine from the music videos that were shot there. To show that Ukraine is literally unavailable today.

Patricia: Then we started looking for an NGO that could get behind it. That's how we ended up working with Rode Kruis-Vlaanderen. Together with them we made the message more human. Because we are not just risking to lose places, it’s about the people who are in danger of disappearing because of the conflict. And Rode Kruis-Vlaanderen was sold immediately. They loved the idea. And eventually Croix Rouge Belgique got on board as well.

The idea was there and the client was on board. Then it was time to find the right artists. How did you go about that?

Patricia: Initially we wanted to work with one artist. But once we started looking a bit further, and ended up with eight artists wanting to be part of the campaign, which makes the potential impact of the campaign a lot bigger.

And for all the enthusiasm on both sides, the search for artists was not an easy one.

Patricia: That was a long and tiring process. Lots of phone calls and chasing people. The rights holders of the videos, for example. That can sometimes be five different parties. The upside was that everyone was very enthusiastic about the idea. That made it fun to communicate about.

Then it was time to start crafting the message on all the touchpoints.

Louise: One of the challenges was to get the copy exactly right. Because we are working with a humanitarian organization, so the focus really needed to be on the people.

Loup: Rode Kruis-Vlaanderen is also an NGO, meaning they have to stay neutral to ensure that they can keep operating in the region and help victims on either side of the conflict. And so our challenge was to find the right words to get our message across without taking a stance. To make clear that in every conflict there are victims, and it is for them that we communicate.

Louise: We have also talked a lot about what would be the best way to help the victims right now. And so what are we asking from the public? 

Loup: yes, it was important for us to do something that could really have a positive impact and help the victims of the conflict. Rather than just communicate about the subject.

What should that impact be exactly? What do you want people to feel or do when they come across one of the new videos?

Loup: The first goal is to get people taking about the victims of this conflict again, get them back on the agenda, make sure they are not forgotten. The second objective is to make people realise that there are more victims every day, and ask themselves how they can help.

Patricia: I think the main goal is that Ukraine is not forgotten. There are other, more recent disasters happening right now. Think of Syria and Turkey. But at the same time, there are still the issues in Ukraine. And we should not forget that. That is also why we have chosen this moment to launch: the one year anniversary of the conflict, to stress that the people there are still in need of help.

How happy are you with the result?

Louise: We’ll have to wait and see how people react. (laughs)

Loup: We are obviously happy to send the campaign into the world. But we will only really be satisfied when there is a real impact. When people are talking about the victims, when the press writes about them again. Only then we will have reached our goal.

Alle info op  rodekruis.be/oekraine


Client: Rode Kruis-Vlaanderen, Croix-Rouge de Belgique

Contact: Sara Jacobi, Linde Woestenborghs, Joachim Deman,

Sandrine Devers, Tiziana d’Olne

Agency: BBDO

CD: Antoinette Ribas, Gregory Ginterdaele, Marc Richard Vanderheyden

Creative team: Louise Cornet, Loup Delpierre

Copy NL/UK: Philippe Mertens, Thibault Jacobs

Head of production: Patricia Van De Kerckhove

Producers: Eva Segers, Marlies Neudt

Editors: Neil Skeet, Annelies Carnoy

Sound engineers: Mathieu Schots, Jeremy Vettorel

CCO: Pascal Kemajou

PR: Double Deeds – David Dalemans

Special thanks to: Roméo Elvis, Twenty One Pilots, Editors, George Ezra, Rudimental, Ed Sheeran,

Years & Years, Tame Impala, Universal Music, Backinthedayz, Warner Chapell,

Lelp, Warner, PIAS, Strictly Confidential, Sony, BMG, Kobalt


Written by BBDO Belgium Team, We create effectiveness