Responses by Austin Hamilton, senior copywriter and Jessica Giles, senior art director, FCB Inferno
Background: Illiteracy affects almost one billion adults worldwide, but it’s a hidden problem with those affected going to great lengths to hide their inability to read. Simple situations like reading medicine instructions or a greeting card from a loved one become heart-breaking daily challenges. This provocative campaign aimed to show the scale of the issue and allow literate people to see the world differently, by framing the problem in a way they can relate to.
Reasoning: We brought this problem to life using the one thing our audience takes for granted—the ability to read. To drive awareness and empathy, we recreated moments of anguish. We aimed to both fit in and stand out in a world of cluttered advertising by using vividly shot images made to look like ads for stylish new consumer packaged goods.
Challenges: Finding a way to tell such poignant stories in a concise manner, while making sure our products looked authentic. Our images could also be used extensively on social media, so we needed to make sure that everything was legible on a smaller scale, optimized for mobile and were also visually impactful to stand out.
Favorite details: Through our work with Project Literacy and its partner organizations, we spent a great deal of time with both illiterate adults and those who are teaching them to read and write. This immersion helped us uncover many real-life stories that we knew would be both relevant for illiteracy awareness and poignant for our target audience.
Visual influences: We did a lot of research into the design of each item so that they would look true to their original packaging. Our goal was to create an image that, at a glance, would appear completely normal. Then, when the viewer reads the words, an entirely new meaning is revealed and shows how many daily activities we take for granted by being literate.
Specific demands: We wanted to make sure we did each story justice and gave them equal gravity, from the more life-threatening issues like being unable to read medicine dosage to the more everyday activities like reading a greeting card. We were very mindful that the messaging we used should reflect the personal experiences of the recently literate adults but not in any way prove insensitive or attribute blame.