SOURCE: NEW YORK TIMES
Is one weekend enough time to mobilize an additional 750 million people to do something meaningful? Perhaps, if you combine celebrity power, huge global brands and a humanitarian message from the United Nations.
To commemorate World Humanitarian Day this Sunday, the United Nations has teamed up with Beyoncé Knowles and brands like Coca-Cola and Hershey’s with the goal of having one billion people — that’s billion with a “b” — declare via social-networking that they will do something to help others. So far, more than 250 million people have signed up, but the clock is ticking.
United Nations officials say they hope to increase awareness about the day, which was created in 2008 to commemorate the lives of 22 people who were killed in a bombing at the organization’s offices in Baghdad in 2003; among the dead was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the high commissioner for human rights at the United Nations.
“Humanitarian work is something that goes beyond the traditional aid work that humanitarians do,” said Kirsten Mildren, a spokeswoman for the project. “This year we’re really trying to make it something that it becomes a household name.”
The United Nations worked with the independent advertising agency Droga5 on the campaign, which began last Friday with a performance by Ms. Knowles inside the General Assembly hall. (The agency also worked with Jay-Z, Ms. Knowles’s husband, on the campaign for his book “Decoded.”)
Standing in front of a massive 10,304-square-foot screen showing images of humanitarian workers around the world, Ms. Knowles performed the song “I Was Here” from her 2011 album, “4”; the campaign takes its name from the song.
Before the performance, Anderson Cooper, the evening’s M.C., conducted a series of interviews with humanitarian workers and other guests. The event was recorded and will be part of the video that Ms. Knowles will release for the song on Sunday as part of the campaign.
Teaming with brands and celebrities like Chris Brown, Jackie Chan, Coca-Cola, Gucci, People magazine and Michelle Obama is expected to help amplify the message even more. Participants are expected to use Facebook and Twitter to send a message saying what good deed they plan to do.
“We can reach a community of close to 50 million people,” said Wendy Clark, the senior vice president for integrated marketing communications and capabilities at Coca-Cola. “Brands can amplify anything.”
Ms. Clark said the company planned to spread the message on its Facebook page and through Twitter accounts for the Coca-Cola brand and has also encouraged company employees to do the same on their personal social-media accounts.
About World Humanitarian Day
Every year on August 19th, World Humanitarian Day recognizes those who face danger and adversity to help others. August 19th is the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 people.
We honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and we pay tribute to those who continue to help people around the world, regardless of who they are and where they are.
Every day we see and hear images and stories of pain and suffering in our own neighborhoods and in countries far away. But we also find acts of kindness, great and small. World Humanitarian Day is a global celebration of people helping people