The power of positive inclusion: How we encouraged the world to join #TheHumanRace campaign

13 June 2022

The brief: “Develop a large-scale multimedia campaign to draw support from all corners of the globe.” Here’s how we did it.

You can create a beautiful-looking campaign, using the best tech, but if the message doesn’t hit the mark, and result in action, the campaign is a flop. Ultimately, it’s the measurable results that determine a campaign’s success.

I still remember the day we pitched for the World Humanitarian Day contract. I was critically aware of the significance of the day for the United Nations, especially coming out of 2020, and a global pandemic. The focus of the campaign for 2021 was the climate crisis. A topic that Rooftop is passionate about.

After working with clients like the United Nations for over ten years, one thing has become clear: We can no longer raise awareness about the health of people without considering the health of the planet. The climate crisis is becoming a hard reality for millions around the world, affecting the most vulnerable, and our children’s future.

I was absolutely thrilled to hear that Rooftop was awarded the contract from UNOCHA to develop a large-scale multimedia campaign to draw support from all corners of the globe. It’s for projects like these that Rooftop was founded.

But developing successful campaigns around the topic of climate change is no small task.

The climate change challenge

Climate change is a hot topic. We needed a campaign that could stand out from the crowd.

And after COVID-19, we did not want to bring more bad news to the world. We wanted to create a campaign that gave people hope. We wanted to share the message that, together, we can win the fight for our planet, and make a difference.

#TheHumanRace – we’re in this together

Our idea for the campaign was called the #TheHumanRace and was inspired by the words of United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, “The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race that we can win!”

The campaign targeted the global community, calling on everyone who heard the message to join #TheHumanRace. We chose this title because it encapsulates the fact that we are all in this – the most important race of our lives – together.

A big idea with big challenges and even bigger rewards

Our idea involved asking the global community to ‘donate’ 100 minutes of physical activity (walking, running, yoga, dancing etc) to match the $100 billion that Global Leaders pledged for climate action.

(Check out our case study to read more about the details of the campaign)

But asking the world to participate in an activity challenge was risky! There are many examples of where this has failed, so we knew that we needed a strong partner to help us make it a reality.

We knew that Strava, the world’s leading exercise platform, would be the perfect fit. Strava would allow anyone with a fitness device or smartphone to log 100 minutes of any activity of their choice.

The pitch to Strava was a great success. They loved the concept and promised to do everything they could to support the campaign.

Creating a challenge that’s accessible to ALL

At the heart of the campaign, we wanted to drive participation, and get audiences to take public, measurable action. And we wanted the challenge to be accessible to all, so that anyone, anywhere could make a difference in their own way.

Sometimes people can feel powerless in the face of an issue as big as climate change. #TheHumanRace empowered people to become a collective force for good. The challenge provided a way for everyone around the world to show solidarity. To stand up on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable people who are bearing the brunt of climate chaos.

A genuine, authentic connection with a cause turns “followers” into “activists”

Using our past experiences in developing global campaigns, we knew that getting the audience to believe in the cause was key.

We also knew we had to make the call to action as accessible and as simple as possible.

To achieve this, we created a series of emotive, informative videos and social media content that spoke to the heart of the climate crisis. At the end, we issued a strong, simple call to action.

We also brought strategic influencers on board to spread the message, and encourage audiences to join the race.

Leveraging influencers

Influencers are extremely powerful in campaigns like this.

For Rooftop, the selection of the influencers was critical. We were not just looking for people with huge following, but people that had the right heart, and cared deeply for the climate.

Once again, the idea of inclusivity was key. Our influencers ranged from climate activists to sporting personalities. I was encouraged to see so many of their followers engage so quickly. It was also clear that they genuinely cared about the issue. Each influencer added their unique voice to the climate change conversation. These influencers and their audiences were integral to the success of #TheHumanRace campaign.

The result?

  • Between 16-31 August, 622,261 people from 183 countries signed up for #TheHumanRace, with 570, 782 completing the challenge.
  • A total of 6,808,804 hours (or 777 years) of activity were logged, equating to an average of 12 hours (700% of the initial ask) per person.
  • Over 100 billion metres were logged for $100 billion.
  • In addition, close to 50 000 people from 178 countries added their voices to the online petition.
  • On the digital front, the campaign reached a potential 1.2 billion people through social media on World Humanitarian Day, with campaign video content reaching 3.7 million views on UNOCHA channels.

A bold campaign, with a message of hope

I believe that the climate crisis is going to be one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime. I was given so much hope by people’s response to the campaign. It was loud and clear… Humanity wants to win the fight against climate change. So many people are ready to do something to make a difference.

One thing is true. When it comes to creating awareness and action around climate change, we are going to need bigger, bolder campaigns to put pressure on policy makers, private and civil society so that we can win the race.

As a company, I believe Rooftop can build on the success of #TheHumanRace for our future projects. We’re all about big, bold campaigns that make a positive difference in the world.

Key learnings from #TheHumanRace campaign

  1. Big issues need big ideas
  2. You need time to build a movement
  3. Solid partnerships produce successful outcomes
  4. Strategic influencers can help inspire participation
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Richard Ahlfeldt

Rooftop Co-Founder & CEO

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