Lost innocence: UNICEF's call for a #FairStart for every child

The campaign has been conceptualised by Linteractive and co-created by Avant Garde Films. It draws attention to the lives of underprivileged children and sends out a message that every child should get a fair chance in life. The film has received overwhelming response but creative leaders feel it should have provided solutions

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Lost innocence: UNICEF's call for a #FairStart for every child

Lost innocence: UNICEF's call for a #FairStart for every child

The campaign has been conceptualised by Linteractive and co-created by Avant Garde Films. It draws attention to the lives of underprivileged children and sends out a message that every child should get a fair chance in life. The film has received overwhelming response but creative leaders feel it should have provided solutions

Akansha Mihir Mota | Mumbai | May 31, 2016

FairStart Click on the image to watch the Video.

UNICEF's digital campaign #FairStart is trending on social media since its launch on May 24, 2016. The shots in the ad film are heart-warming and have disseminated strong messages related to UNICEF's key areas of priorities that include education, sanitation, early marriage, new-born health and stunted growth among others.

Caroline Den Dulk, Chief, Advocacy and Communication, UNICEF India, said, “Every child deserves a fair start and adequate nutrition, education, sanitation, protection and health care. The campaign draws attention to the lives of those children who are deprived of these basic rights. Every child should have a fair and equal chance in life, irrespective of their caste, ethnicity, gender, poverty, region or religion.”

According to data provided by UNICEF, currently, 6.1 million children in India are out of school; around 10 million children are child labourers in India; close to 3,500 children die every day before reaching the age of five; 42 per cent of tribal children in India are stunted in their growth; and almost half the population of India, about 564 million people, still practise open defecation. Girls in India deserve an equal chance in life too but on an average 2.22 million girls marry early every year in India, and 23% girls between 15-19 years of age experience physical or sexual violence.

The film is very simple and definitely eye-catching. The background score is melodious and makes one nostalgic about childhood. For sure, the film is a tonic for the soul and overwhelming but could have been better executed by giving solutions to the problems than just showing what the problems are. One can only hope that the film has a real impact and not just be like any other public service campaign.

The 2 minutes and 51 seconds film starts with a voiceover and graphics with the message 'You may skip to start but millions like us can neither skip inequality nor get a fair start'. The film moves ahead with shots comparing privileged and underprivileged kids. One is selling flowers at the traffic signal while the other is sitting inside the car waving at him. While a few children are shown in school, one girl child is shown performing in the circus. A few are shown going to school, while two kids are shown going for open defecation. Like this, the film proceeds with a few examples of comparison between the two classes of children. The film ends with the message of the campaign #FairStart.

UNICEF works closely with the Government of India and many other partners for the betterment of the most vulnerable and deprived children, ensuring that each child born in this hugely populated country gets the best start in life and grows to his or her full potential.

Talking in detail about the initiative, Dulk said, “Often the issues faced are immensely complex in nature and cut across all layers of society. To make change happen, a mind-shift is required. The #FairStart campaign aims at engaging the larger public in a debate and for everyone to see they have a role to play to make sure every child can have a fair chance in life.”


Ideation and insight

Parag Shahane Parag Shahane

Giving details on the ideation and insight brainstorming sessions, Parag Shahane, Unit Creative Director, Linteractive Digital Marketing, said, “The ideation was based on a hard-hitting ground reality. Many kids from families with modest means get caught in the circle of life. They lead challenging lives and yet, find reasons to smile. Given a chance, we believe these kids could perform as well or better than kids from well-to-do families. The only thing that stands between these kids and a chance of success is often just a 'Fair Start'. This belief of UNICEF was the starting point of our thinking, and that's what the campaign attempts to bring alive.”

The agency has tried to portray the similarities of the two kinds of childhood rather than the differences. The folk music, the nursery rhymes and the entire setup is designed to draw pleasant parallels of possibilities and not the contrast of their reality.

The campaign will be promoted for another 2-3 weeks but aims at leaving an all-time impact on the mindset of the people. The campaign first rolled out on May 24, 2016 on the digital front and will traverse touch-points, including events, cinema halls, children's film festival, etc.

Making of the film

To realise the film, UNICEF worked with children from across slums in Mumbai to offer first-hand narratives of their lives. Participating children contributed towards the film in various roles of cameraman, art director, costume designers, etc.

Abhishek De, Avant Garde Films, said, “The #FairStart campaign was quite a remarkable and prestigious project to work for the entire team at Avant Garde Films. The most memorable thing was working with such wonderful kids from 'Bigger Than Life' NGO. They played cast and crew really well. For everyone who was a part of this project, it would be the most memorable experience and will be close to our hearts forever.”

The song has been sung by the children themselves and the music composed by music director Arghya and famous Rajasthani folk singer Saroop Khan. Even the voiceover in the film has been done by the kids.

De said, “It was a totally different experience working with the angels. The enthusiasm and the creativity they had are unimaginable. It was amazing to see their urge to learn something new every day. Hope they bloom well in their future.”

The children in the crew were trained by professionals and given specific assignments. Based on their assignments and interest levels they were assigned different functions of film-making. With the technical guidance of various professionals, these kids have definitely pulled out this beautiful film.

Talking about the emotional involvement of working with kids, a spokesperson from the production house said, “The biggest emotional part was when we had to face the harsh realities of the kids and when they acted their lives out. The image was very stark and we were happy to see them still having dreams in their eyes and hoping for a brighter future. We loved the idea when Parag and Linteractive asked us to be a part of the prestigious project as mentors. We do a lot of projects but this one was very dear to our hearts."

Production challenges

The complex campaign had almost 100 children who have never ever been involved in any film. The team had to make sure they didn't miss their schools, which caused some delay in the making of the film.

Shahane said, “Then there was the issue of safety of the kids, which was important. But after weeks of hard work and many challenges we were able to finish this mammoth task. We are happy with how the final product has turned out.”

De shared his part of challenges, “Yes, there were many challenges like shooting in real locations, making the kids work like professionals and as mentors living up to their expectations. The biggest challenge was the hot and humid weather in Mumbai. We had to take several intervals so that the kids were not overworked. Weaving nursery rhymes into a melody was quite a task. Argho and Swaroop did wonders, they created magic for the kids.”

Creative peer review

Most creative people liked the concept of the film but think that the execution could have been much better. caught up with a few creative experts to find their views on the ad campaign.

Soumitra Karnik Soumitra Karnik

Soumitra Karnik, National Creative Director, Dentsu India:

I found the subject very beautiful and I really feel for it, but what is the solution? I think they have raised a problem but have left it without giving an end point or solution. There are circumstances in which the kids are put. They don't have a choice where they are, just like the rich kids don't have a choice where they are born. We know there is inequality but what is one supposed to do? In every public service ad there is a call to action, either there is donation or a message of sharing. Here I would say, besides debating on the social media, I think what required is real action. Honestly, I did not feel sad.

Shriram Iyer Shriram Iyer

Shriram Iyer, Nation Creative Director, MullenLintas:

#fairstart is every child's right. The thought is compelling and does make the privileged classes realise how lucky one is to have a fair start in life. The spot does succeed in provoking thought about how easily destiny could have exchanged places. I would maybe the execution of the film itself could have been sharper. The transitions are sweet but not shocking. But that's just an afterthought.

Suresh Eriyat Suresh Eriyat

Suresh Eriyat, Founder & Creative Director, Eeksaurus:

The concept of the ad film is very good and to show the concept with nursery rhymes is a great idea. I feel the film is a bit long. It is unnecessarily long after making a point. It is mostly the fatigue, showing the same point in a different scenario. In the parts where they show the underprivileged kids, it seems a bit staged to me. Authenticity could have been much better portrayed.”

Varun Duggirala Varun Duggirala

Varun Duggirala, Co-Founder, The Glitch:

The song for me really brought out the film's ethos and was the real differentiator. The urban disparity between the kids comes out a lot more because of this. That for me is what breaks this piece out from other similar films.

The Video:



Agency: Linteractive (part of MullenLowe Lintas)

Creative Team: Parag Shahane, Rupesh Wadekar, Bhavin Patel, Mahendra Tiley, Shreyasi Ghosh, Srujan Raorane

Business: Sumanta Ganguly, Esha Bhivandker, Dakshin Adyanthaya, Rasesh Raja

Production House: Avant Garde Films

Director: Abhishek De