As we’ve said many times before, we like nothing more than a great idea put to good use and we’re very happy to say BBH London have just created exactly that for AMREF (African Medical Research Foundation).

Kim & Mareka, the creative team who dreamt up the idea, told us more about it.

What’s the idea in a nutshell?

The idea is that you simply lend your Facebook status to one of 7 Africans, thereby giving them the opportunity to let more people know about their lives. Your status is updated morning and afternoon for 5 days on your behalf, with the real stories of daily life in Africa. As part of the sign-up process, you can also lend your Twitter account, and even your Facebook profile picture to your choice of person – from a Nairobi streetkid or a Nomadic tribe member to a Flying Doctor or Traditional Birth Attendant.


What inspired the solution?

We were inspired by the fact that we are personally able to divulge the minutiae of our lives on a whim via Facebook, and that people in our social circle pay attention to these bitesize updates. We thought that if we could translate that platform to broadcast revealing and hard-hitting truths on the state of daily African life, it would be effective and create a buzz. We also had no money and no media, this being a charity project, so it changed the lines of our thinking, and Facebook seemed an ideal environment to try and spread a message.

What are you looking to achieve with this?

We are hoping that people take this very simple opportunity to do something charitable, and help spread awareness of the plight of Africa. We also hope that the harsh realities are brought home somewhat, and people also become aware that there is important work being done on the ground by AMREF, to improve African life for the future.

Is this a first for Facebook?

Using status updates to communicate automatically on behalf of a cause or topic you believe in is not new per se – it’s just been used more often to spread news and announcements, eg. Obama’s election campaign polling day call, or as a way for people to sign up under a unified message. We believe our campaign feels like a true and human use of the Facebook medium – an opportunity for the telling of a number of very personal stories, broadcast on a global scale.

Are there any plans to continue the campaign?

Whilst donations can be made to AMREF via their Facebook page and their website, we will be developing an engaging online method to donate directly to the charity in future (we’re not ready to give the idea away just yet, so please watch this space!)

Tell us the story behind how this idea came about – what’s BBH’s relationship with AMREF, what was the brief?

AMREF has a corporate sponsor in Diageo, a BBH client. The Johnnie Walker team came to us looking to raise awareness for the charity principally, and then hopefully drive donations. This piece of communication through Facebook is designed to fulfil the awareness part of the brief, and then there is a ‘Part II’ in the pipeline we’ve hinted at above – an exciting and innovative donation driver.

Anything else we should know?

We’d love everyone to sign up to the app on FB, spread the word amongst their friends, tweet about it. And, yes, if you know any celebrities in the Twitterverse or blogosphere that they think would lend some weight behind the campaign and talk about it, that would be a massive boost.

Here’s the link to the app again:

And if you are interested in getting involved in AMREF beyond the app, take a look here:


Creative Team: Mareka Carter & Kimberley Gill

Creative Director: Johan Tesch/Rosie Arnold

Digital Producer: Tove Svensson

Account Director: Emma Brooker

Engagement Planner: Daniele Orner-Ginor

Junior Creative Technologist: Luis-Daniel Alegría

AMREF: Victoria Rugg, Tracey Carter & Tyler Stiem (Tyler originally bought into the idea but has now moved on from the charity).

Diageo: Peter Dee

PR: Romy Miller

Production Company: Chris Maltby and Matt Lynch at Feed Communications

Pius Omoding
Pius Omoding
Dr Asrat Mengister
Dr Asrat Mengister