Rahul Sachitanand
Jul 24, 2020

Softly delivered pandemic messaging, at a time of high-decibel COVID-19 communication

At a time of physical distancing and endless paranoia, BBC StoryWorks somewhat belatedly tells us that there's someone out there.

Not another COVID-19 campaign, you sigh, when you are passed a piece of work on a Friday morning. The last few weeks have seen a saturation of COVID-19 material of all sorts from agencies and brands, all looking to not just manage the pandemic, but also to stay on-brand with their messaging. 

This time, however, is different, because the new work from BBC StoryWorks is not about the BBC. The company's in-house branded content division has launched two new films in response to the United Nations’ global callout to creatives to help stop the spread of COVID-19. BBC StoryWorks responded to the challenge with two ideas, which were among 17,000 entries submitted to the UN, to translate critical public health messages into content that engages and informs the public across different cultures, languages, communities and platforms.

Both films are animated, avoiding the need for travel or filming in close proximity and therefore adhering to the social distancing guidelines which they promote.

We've only been given one of the films (above). In it, BBC Storyworks doesn't merely exhort people to stay home, but softly (special props to the background music Someone Out There by Rae Morris), encourages people to be friendly and kind to family, friends and strangers on the street, all while maintaining safe physical distancing norms. 

What really strikes this writer is how a very British media brand like the BBC pieced together the work virtually, with a truly global flavour. Handily, a statement from the BBC notes, the campaigns bring together the insight of BBC StoryWorks’ teams in cities around the world to create campaigns which transcend language and culture. They utilise the BBC’s global cultural expertise and almost a century of world-class storytelling experience.

At a time when the world at large is in dire need of positive messages, the films will be broadcast across the BBC’s global portfolio—BBC World News, BBC.com and the BBC World Service—which reach a combined audience of 396 million people globally in 42 languages, as well as on BBC StoryWorks’ social channels. What's more, they will also be made available to other broadcasters too, following a recent initiative in which BBC Global News joined forces with CNN and Euronews to offer $50 million worth of free ad inventory to promote public health messages around coronavirus.

It's nice to be reminded that someone out there loves you. We only wish the BBC had showed up with this work three months ago to tell us. 

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