Ad Nut
Jun 30, 2022

Sea shanty songs with a sobering stance

UNHCR and BMF show that you can collaborate with a TikTok star while shedding light on a modern tragedy.

UNHCR has collaborated with TikTok star Nathan Evans to launch ‘The Reluctant Shanty’ on World Refugee Day (June 20). The campaign aims to raise awareness and tell the story of the ‘reluctant sailor’—or refugee survivors. Featuring three Australian refuges, the campaign launches across TikTok, PR, and Instagram and leverages the sea shanty phenomenon to raise awareness of refugees and funds for UNHCR, through Australia for UNHCR. 

The idea for this campaign was built on the fact that sea shanty music has been trending on TikTok for some time. For the uninitiated, sea shanty is a 400-year-old music genre popularised by sailors. This article explains that people might misconceive sea shanty to mean any song sung by sailors, but this type of music has a more nuanced definition in nautical culture—they are songs usually sung by sailors while they perform physical labour. Sailing, back in the day, was difficult work especially with sails primarily being made of wood, canvas, and rope. Ad Nut has sure learned plenty about sea shanty music today.  

Having said all this, the physical labour of sailors is not comparable to that of refugees. The unimaginable pain and trauma faced by refugees travelling by sea are still very much a reality in modern day, and many countries—Australia included—are guilty of contributing to this phenomenon. According to UNHCR, asylum-seekers who arrive in Australia without a visa are subjected to a number of punitive measures that can significantly impair their mental health and general well-being. This includes waiting up to four years to seek government protection, and the indefinite inability to reunite with family members.

While a singular campaign will certainly not make things better, Ad Nut hopes that at least one person reading this might consider donating a dime to the organisation of their choice to keep displaced people safe.


Creative Agency: BMF
Chief Creative Officer: Alex Derwin
Creative Director: Douglas Hamilton 
Art Director: Jack Robertson
Copywriter: Robert Boddington 
Head of Art & Design: Lincoln Grice
Designer: Alex Kidd & Yoon Park 
Chief Strategy Officer: Christina Aventi
Chief Executive Officer: Stephen McArdle 
Account Director: Rebekah O’Grady
Head of TV: Jenny Lee-Archer
Agency Producer: Jessica Vella

Production Company: FINCH
Director: Kyra Bartley
Managing Director: Corey Esse
Executive Producer: Loren Bradley 
Producer: Nick Simkins & Bryce Lintern
Post Production: Atticus
Editor: Delaney Murphy
Post Producer: Kani Saib
Sound Production: Rumble
Lyricist: Robert Boddington
DOP:  James Brown 
Photographer: David Collins
Integrated Producer: Simone Plaza 
Digital Producer: Samuel Elliott 
Web Development Partner: 2DM
Creative Services Director: Clare Yardley

Client: Australia for UNHCR

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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