75 Years of UNICEF: Reimagining the Future for Every Child Since 1946

4 March 2022

Since 1946, UNICEF has been an unstoppable force for change in the lives of children–whoever they are, wherever they live. In 2021, as the global NGO marched into their 75th year while responding to yet another series of global crises headlined by climate change, conflict, and the Covid pandemic, Rooftop had the opportunity to partner with UNICEF to share a window into their remarkable journey and its far-reaching impact over three quarters of a century.

Since its establishment in the aftermath of World War II, UNICEF has been at the frontlines of humanitarian crises. From the ashes of war to global emergencies impacting millions today, UNICEF has risen to the challenge, responding to ensure that millions of children can survive and thrive. Over 75 years, their on-the-ground expertise has reached more than 191 countries and territories, through committed partnerships and a passion for innovation.

As part of commemorating this monumental milestone, UNICEF’s New York office partnered with Rooftop to produce the flagship video for the UNICEF@75 campaign. The objective of the video would not only be to share the importance and impact of UNICEF’s journey looking back, but to serve as a powerful motivation to keep looking forward and continuing the struggle in the face of new and ever-evolving global challenges.

The UNICEF story is that of children and the people who have relentlessly rallied for them, be they goodwill ambassadors or staff members from around the globe. When the world’s most vulnerable have needed a champion, UNICEF has been there–fighting for them, believing in them, and giving them the opportunity to reach their full potential.

With this core story theme as inspiration, Rooftop developed the flagship video concept around capturing the authentic stories of children whose lives were significantly impacted by UNICEF interventions–so much so that these individuals went on to ‘pay it forward’ and play their own part in extending the UNICEF legacy.

Beginning in late July, the team embarked on a lengthy research and pre-production process to put the wheels in motion to find the ‘right’ stories. Reaching out through UNICEF networks, the team identified a number of compelling real-life stories, and selected four to feature in the video. They were former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, Syrian education activist & UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Muzoon Almellehan, UNICEF Sierra Leone Health Officer, Diana Koroma, and Child Rights Activist, Felipe Caetano.

Spanning multiple timelines, generations and geographies, these unique stories would provide a powerful and emotive thread, while subtly showcasing how the UNICEF journey has unfolded over the years, planting seeds and reaping incredible rewards through the fostering of greatness in individual lives.

Rooftop’s creative responsibility would rest on keeping these stories authentic–beautifully reimagined through film, yet still factually and emotionally true-to-life. Without the necessary time or budget to shoot in every historical location, Rooftop engaged in an in-depth research process that would allow us to locally recreate the settings of each individual’s childhood–including 1950s Korea, modern Jordan and Brazil, and Sierra Leone in the 90s. Actors representing the younger version of each individual were also all sourced in South Africa, with a careful casting and sign-off process.

Having recorded interview voice-over with each of the four individuals, Rooftop focused on structuring an accurate and authentic storyline featuring key moments in each individual’s life to show the difficulties they faced as children, and how UNICEF had stepped in, effectively changing the trajectories of their futures.

By creating a detailed animatic in preparation for the shoot, the creative team was able to ensure that the details and moments of the corresponding storylines matched up perfectly. This also allowed for a smooth shooting and editing process that ensured we met the project deadline, while staying true to UNICEF’s key messaging and the authenticity of the featured stories.

Produced in 5 official UN languages, the video was released in early December 2021, being very well-received across the organisation, and gaining impressive engagement with a combined 1.8 million views across UNICEF social media channels.

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Tom Collins

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