In April 2020, weeks after the World Health Organisation had declared coronavirus a pandemic, the UN launched an open brief that read, “The United Nations (UN) needs your help in translating critical public health messages, into work that will engage and inform people across different cultures, languages, communities and platforms. The shortlisted work will reach everyone, everywhere.
“The open call has really mobilised creatives, businesses, and ad agencies from around the world to jump in and lend their ingenuity and creativity and, by doing so, join this global collective against Covid-19,” Dawda Jobarteh, who heads up the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Strategy Hub, told me in April 2020.
“The strategy hub is aimed around collective action and leveraging people’s expertise, mindsets, abilities, capacities, and reaches. We’ve had 8500 submissions from 127 countries in ten days.
“We see business playing a role: one, first and foremost, it’s keeping employees and customers safe, making sure that they have up to date and accurate information. It’s also around leveraging their platforms, whether it’s through their media channels to distribute some of this content in the most creative way or integrating Covid-19-safe messaging in whatever content that they’re pushing out there. There are a lot of different ways that business can and should play a role in all of this.”
The official United Nations Covid response logo was created by global agency, TBWA, along with icons for the six WHO priority categories that helped to inform submissions for the open brief – personal hygiene, physical distancing, knowing your symptoms, myth-busting, spreading kindness and solidarity. The logo, which depicts the virus and people, not touching, but with their arms around the planet, also contains an intentional nod to the development goals – the word ‘response’ is underlined by 17 coloured squares – each representing one of the goals and coloured in the same colour that they are depicted in their official icons.
On 8 May 2020, stock photography website, Unsplash, announced that the United Nations had joined the platform. In an email titled, ‘United Nations + Unsplash: A Visual PSA System for the Internet’, Unsplash said that the partnership aimed to share the visuals created in the open brief seen by 1 billion people in the following 30 days. Like all images on Unsplash, the images are free to use, and are available across the Unsplash partner network that includes Medium, Buzzfeed, Adobe and Google Slides. See and share the complete collection at https://unsplash.com/@unitednations and https://unitednations.talenthouse.com.