Project Literacy

The Mighty Pencil Machine

The Alphabet of Illiteracy, having launched in February, demonstrated how illiteracy contributes to 26 of the world’s biggest issues, from A-Z. For example, in the Alphabet of Illiteracy, C is for child brides, as better education for girls leads to fewer child marriages. Following the success of this launch, we needed to think big to mark International Literacy Day.

The Insight

Words have the power to end illiteracy.

The Idea

Turning messages of support from around the world into real pencils that people learning to read and write will use.

The Mighty Pencil Machine

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day we collated messages of support, via our web app, from around the world. With our specially built Mighty Pencil Machine we printed these messages of support and turned them into pencils. The machine was housed at an art gallery in New York’s Tribeca where visitors could watch as their pencils were made with their message within. We designed the space in keeping with the campaign’s distinctive branding. The event also featured pencil portraits of people whose lives have been rewritten by learning to read and write. Julianne Moore attended the exhibition as the official ambassador and spoke to press around the world about Project Literacy.

Celebrity Support

To coincide with the exhibition and International Literacy Day, 26 of the world’s highest profile celebrities each adopted a letter from the Alphabet of Illiteracy. Amongst others, Elton John tweeted ‘A is for AIDS. Literacy helps stop its spread’, Lily Cole ‘I is for Infant Mortality. I’m working with #ProjectLiteracy to raise awareness’, Idris Elba ‘R is for Radicalization. Literacy helps tackle extremism’ and Usain Bolt ‘V is for Voiceless. Literacy allows people to be heard’. You can view the full list here.

The Pencil Sculptures

For the second phase of the campaign we created sculptures from the nibs of pencils to represent the impact that literacy can have on people’s lives. We worked alongside the unimaginably talented artist Jasenko Đorđević to create visually impactful dioramas that would encourage donations to Project Literacy. 29th November, Giving Tuesday, marked the launch of the first of our set of three sculpted nibs, which we are planning to exhibit in a gallery to further spread the word of Project Literacy.


million Twitter impressions.


In the space of one week, #ProjectLiteracy achieved a reach of more than 10 million people on Facebook.