VML Explains Why It Asked People to Sign a UN Petition With Selfies

The #NotATarget campaign addresses civilian casualties

The campaign addresses the fact that of the 42,972 people reportedly killed or injured by explosive weapons, 31,904 were civilians. VML

Visitors to the United Nations headquarters may feel like they’re being watched.

For its #NotATarget campaign for the U.N., launched on World Humanitarian Day, VML called on people to participate in a new type of petition. Rather than a signature, it asked that they provide selfies which were then turned into 3D images unveiled at U.N. Headquarters on World Humanitarian Day, Aug. 17.

The installation includes a motion sensor allowing the eyes of the petitioners to follow U.N. delegates and world leaders as they visit the U.N. hall. It will remain in place throughout the U.N. General Assembly which begins in September.

The campaign addresses the fact that, according to the United Nations, of the 42,972 people reportedly killed or injured by explosive weapons, 31,904 were civilians—a 38 percent increase over 2016. In addition to the 3D sculpture, the campaign also includes out-of-home elements, an anthem ad and social media components.

VML executive creative director, technology Craig Elimeliah explained that last year’s campaign included a call to action to sign a petition, something that failed to resonate with younger audiences. So for this year’s effort, the agency aimed to “completely reimagine how the U.N. does petitions in the digital/social age” and “show young people that they are willing to innovate in a big way so that people all over the world can participate in doing good.”

The agency’s production partners, m ss ng p eces and Standard Transmission then helped bring the idea to life.

“m ss ng p eces came up with the 2D to 3D selfie which we absolutely loved and worked perfectly with the iconic statue we wanted to create,” Elimeliah told Adweek. “Standard Transmission took our vision of creating an iconic piece of art to a whole new level and truly brought the idea of The Living Petition to life in an elegant way that would look amazing in the halls of the U.N.”

Elimeliah said the current political climate lent an added sense of urgency.

“One of the inspirations for using faces as a signature was to create a sense of transparency and direct access for people to get involved in real change,” he explained. “We live in a world where trust has been lost in the media and we wanted to try and do a small part in helping to rebuild some of that trust by allowing people to get directly involved with something that could not be faked.”

VML – Ideation Company
Fabio Seidl – Executive Creative Director
Dave Quintiliani- Group Creative Director – VML
Craig Elimeliah- Executive Director, Creative Technology –
John Figlesthaler- Senior Copywriter – VML
Elliott Graham – Senior Art Director – VML
Colby House – Art Director – VML
David Drayer – Associate Creative Director – VML
Andy Mcleod – Creative Director – VML
Carson Catlin – Senior Motion Designer – VML
Steve Stone – Production Supervisor – VML
Josh Wolf – Creative Technology Director – VML
Mark Leephaibul – Copywriter – VML
Chris Furse – Managing Director – VML
Tracy Moore – Senior Producer – VML
Andrea Correal Vasquez– Supervisor, Client Engagement – VML
Lani Mann – Campaign Program Manager – VML
Erica Shwartz – Associate Connections Manager – VML
Melissa St. Fleur – Associate Connections Director – VML
Tiffany Do – Associate Connections Manager – VML
Zaneta Reid – Connections Director – VML
Kate Boccio – Director, Client Engagement – VML

m ss ng p eces – Production Company
Ray Tintori – Creative Director – m ss ng p eces
Ari Kuschnir – Managing Partner – m ss ng p eces
Brian Latt – Managing Partner – m ss ng p eces
Kate Oppenheim – Managing Partner – m ss ng p eces
Dave Saltzman – Executive Producer – m ss ng p eces
Edward Grann – Executive Producer – m ss ng p eces
Mike Woods – Director of Immersive Content
Kathryn Berk – Supervising Producer – m ss ng p eces
Josh Sussman – Head of Post Production – m ss ng p eces
Mike Bodge – Consultant

Standard Transmission – Sculpture Fabrication
Manu Sawkar – Owner/CTO – Standard Transmission
Andrew Macfarlane – Engineer – Standard Transmission
Jolly Banerjee – Producer – Standard Transmission

United Nations: Client
Amanda Pitt – Chief, Strategic Communications Branch – United Nations OCHA
Belinda Gurd – Campaign Manager, Public Advocacy & Campaigns – United Nations OCHA
Christian Clarke – Advocacy Officer, Public Advocacy & Campaigns – United Nations OCHA
Kirsten Mildren – Chief, Public Advocacy & Campaigns – United Nations OCHA
Giles Clarke – Photographer

One Thousand Birds: Audio Post Production

Calvin Pia: Sound Design + Mix – One Thousand Birds
Kira MacKnight: Executive Producer – One Thousand Birds
Ross de Péloubet Thompson – Photo Retouching

@ErikDOster erik.oster@adweek.com Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.