Zimbabwe’s hope for 2011

It was an unforgettable image – the Pulitzer award-winning photograph by Kevin Carter from the Sudan famine of 1994, where a little girl was hunched, starving, as a vulture lurked nearby. She was trying to get to a food camp 1km away while the vulture was waiting for her to die. Kevin took the photograph and then left the area.

The world threw its arms up in furore while journalists and artists argued for the role of a photographer and their right, will or obligation not to interfere. Whatever your stance, you have to respect the power of an image to evoke interest and create awareness. As advertisers, we live to do the very same; seldom as intense, but never indifferent. It’s when it’s not about the sale of a product that things get really interesting.

The convenience of a commodity is fascinating, especially when you think it might be taken away from you. Then, compared to something more than that – like your voice or your human rights – even more so, right? Right. This is the reality that TBWA Hunt Lascaris leverages to create awareness in their campaign for The Zimbabwean – a newspaper published in South Africa and the UK by a network of Zimbabwean journalists. These professionals have no place in Zimbabwe’s current state due to forced evictions and fear for their own lives. Their plight to bring news to Zimbabweans (and the world) about the truth of what is going on there comes alive via what I interpret as one very poignant question: when was the last time you had something taken from you?

‘Give a voice to the voiceless’ aims to uncover and expose exactly what they are looking to keep silent in Zimbabwe – atrocities on her people. To fight the deafening silence on the potential for change, TBWA sent requests to journalists for their photographs from the last two years, added an empty speech bubble (in the shape of Zimbabwe) and the payoff line to each of the images received and selected for the campaign.

Shine a light on the issue and you may help to heal it – even if just a little. Look at the awareness that Kevin Carter’s picture ignited for what was happening in the Sudan. There are a lot of naïve people out there but it doesn’t mean they don’t or won’t care. A little coaxing may help them make the jump, and if these images help some people do at least that – then it has been a very good day for advertising.

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