Project Literacy

First Words

In 2016 we launched the Alphabet of Illiteracy campaign for Pearson’s Project Literacy to raise awareness of the shocking impact of illiteracy as the root cause of many of the biggest issues around the world. The Cannes Health Lions Grand Prix winning campaign was hugely successful and resulted in Pearson being invited to contribute to the UNESCO Global Alliance for Literacy on behalf of the campaign partners.

But the fight against illiteracy is not over. Building upon the success of the Alphabet of Illiteracy our new campaign tackles how we can break the intergenerational cycle of illiteracy by empowering adults learning to read and write, so they can encourage literacy in future generations. Our intention was to move people from shock to awe, and their behaviour from awareness to action.

The Insight

If a parent is unable to read, it is likely to be passed onto the next generation.

The Idea

Bring to life the struggle faced by adults learning to read and write and show the transformative effect improved literacy can have on their lives.

The Cast

Everyone featured in the campaign is currently in the process of learning to read and write for the first time. We see people like Donna learning to read so that she isn’t scared to shop in the supermarket for her daughter with a peanut allergy, and Andre learning to read because he wants to have the confidence to read with his granddaughter.

The Film

‘First Words’ brings to life the struggles of adults learning to read and write for the first time, and shows the transformative effect improved literacy can have on their lives. “Human” by Rag ‘n’ Bone Man adds poignancy to the story with powerful lyrics that are almost tailor-made to acknowledge the stigma faced by illiterate adults. The film premiered at the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas and will run as 30”, 60” and 90” versions across the US and UK.

The Webpage

We created an interactive web page to host the stories within the film, and showcase interviews with the cast about the barriers they faced to becoming literate, how they overcame them and how their lives have been transformed now they’re literate.