Barnardo’s is the UK’s largest children’s charity, offering vital support services to children and young people regardless of their personal circumstances. In 2016, FCB Inferno worked with them to develop ‘Believe In Me’, a creative platform that recast young people as resilient individuals with the potential to overcome anything, if they have the right support.
Our latest campaign continues where the first one left off, by highlighting the role Barnardo's plays in the healing process. Each campaign execution features a child affected by a different issue, and highlights how they have been able to start working through it with Barnardo’s support and belief. Two of them consciously focus on mental health, due to the rising number of mental health issues being reported in young people today.
A child affected by trauma or stress can feel negative emotion so vividly that it becomes a near-physical presence, which invades and affects every aspect of their life.
Use wild animals as a metaphor for the very visceral, tangible way in which trauma or abuse manifests itself in the mind of a child, before Barnardo’s services are able to intervene and help them through it.
‘Crow’ is the latest ad in Barnardo’s Believe in Me campaign. It shows a young schoolboy talking about how he ‘feels different’, since recently losing his mother to an unexplained illness. As he reflects on the shock of her sudden death, we see he is being observed by a crow everywhere he goes. We learn that his grief at losing his mother impacts everything he does, until speaking to a Barnardo’s counsellor who makes it ‘easier to smile’ once more. The film is part of a larger awareness drive by Barnardo’s to provide more counselling sessions for children struggling with mental health. In light of the pandemic, Barnardo’s also hopes to persuade the government to rethink the education system and ensure that schools prioritise child welfare and wellbeing.
The latest ad in Barnardo’s ‘Believe In Me’ awareness-raising campaign highlights the issue of child sexual abuse. ‘Komodo’ is the second of Barnardo’s latest ‘Believe in Me’ campaigns and is designed to shine a spotlight on Barnardo’s tireless work; every year they support thousands of children and young people who have been sexually abused and exploited. It shows a young girl sitting on a bed, a computer-generated Komodo dragon emerges from the bathroom and makes a slow and terrifying advance towards her. Through the advert, the audience is shown that she is the subject of online grooming; whose abuser coerces or manipulates her into a sexual relationship that she feels powerless to escape from.
Our campaign launched with ‘Hyenas’ – a 40-second TV advert that tells the story of a young girl acutely affected by anxiety, due to school bullying. As proxy for her bullies we used CGI hyenas, who threaten and pursue her throughout the school day and even when she’s alone at home, via social media. It is only after speaking to a Barnardo’s counsellor that she starts learning how to manage her mental health and begins to feel stronger in herself. The film uses bespoke sound design to reflect her increasing anxiety: gradually layering discordant sounds till they reach an unsettling pitch.
We shot a series of powerful but naturalistic portraits of our hero child that allowed us to tell her story on the Barnardo’s website and across other digital sites. Unlike the TV advert, the portraits didn’t feature any hyenas, to keep our sole focus on the child’s narrative and the support that Barnardo’s gives to other children like her. We alternated between sombre and optimistic portraits with corresponding messaging, to convey the difference before and after a child comes into contact with Barnardo’s.
We used the brevity of social formats to our advantage, by condensing our TV narrative into short-form stories that a greater number of people could understand and empathise with – making more people than ever aware of the incredible work that Barnardo’s does.
It was a conscious decision to keep the hyenas in our TV ad as real and threatening as possible, to heighten the sense of jeopardy felt by our hero child. As part of the CGI process, each hyena was ‘cast’ based on characteristics and traits of a real-life hyena in the wild. The VFX team then got to work building the CGI hyena from the inside out, starting with the skeleton before adding muscles, fur and movement.
Since launching the campaign, Barnardo's has seen:
80% increase in donations
60% increase in Instagram engagement
37% increase in visits to Barnardo’s website
The campaign has also received overwhelmingly positive PR and has been picked up by numerous advertising and charity publications – including Campaign, The Drum, Little Black Book and Best Ads on TV. David Reviews rated it 5 stars, calling it ‘a timely look at the impact proper support can have on a young person’s life’.