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MA Advertising graduates launch campaign to challenge perceptions of refugees


Written by
Jake May
Published date
21 December 2017

MA Advertising graduates Min-hyung Choi and Valentin Guiod have received wide support for their recent ‘Living is Winning’ advertising campaign – challenging the perception of refugees in the media.

The ‘Living is Winning’ campaign, which launched in September, was created on behalf of La Cimade, an independent humanitarian organisation which protects refugees’ rights. Consisting of a series of posters, 3 films and a campaign website, the campaign has been praised by the French media, social network users and industry professionals. Valentin Guiod worked with Josiane Paris on the project, and Min-Hyung Choi with Adam & Eve London.

Course Leader for LCC’s MA Advertising course Dr Cui Su told us: “They worked with an award-winning photojournalist using real news images and did everything off their own back, from start to finish. This included not just making the advert, but also press releases and social media – which is quite rare for a creative team. They are speaking to Olympic athletes for possible collaborations. This is really inspiring work.”

We got hold of Min-hyung and Valentin for a catch up on their campaign and post-grad life…

What was the inspiration behind the idea?

Min-hyung: This idea of surpassing yourself resonated with us. Refugees are not competing to win gold medals, but purely for their right to live with dignity. We then came across talks of bidding for the Olympics in Paris 2024 in the French media, we saw this as the perfect opportunity to begin a conversation on this topic.

Valentin: Athletes have long been established as role models for success, courage, and determination. People admire and respect them for that. Over time, the public have regarded them as heroes and sport holds the ability to gather people around universal emotions and values.

Why do you feel it is important to bring attention to this subject?

Min-hyung: It was really important to us to counteract the negative portrayal of refugees in the media.

Be ground-breaking, be intuitive and most of all, remain simple.

Valentin: It was the most strategic timing to do so. We believe this major societal issue will never get too much attention, whereas we are spending a lot of energy, money and media space for the sporting industry. We decided to reverse the trend this time.

What were your roles within the campaign?

Min-hyung: A bit of everything! From creation and production to managing clients and press. It wasn’t really about who did what, but more a real willingness to put this campaign out there.

Valentin: We believe digital intermediaries, such as social networking sites, often make the communication process very complicated, with the risk of distorting the core message of an idea. So we kept the production line very simple and involved ourselves as much as we could. We are incredibly grateful to all the talented collaborators we had on board, who offered up their skills and expertise for free.

What was the process of putting together the campaign?

Min-hyung: Sleepless nights! We were doing this project outside our respective office hours. So you can imagine the last 3 months have been quite hectic.

Valentin: It is the least we could do to pay tribute to their inspiring courage!

What was the most difficult aspect and how did you overcome it?

Valentin: The process was quite easy as relationships and decisions didn’t depend on financial stakes. People were willing to help and find the right solutions to make it happen. Being surrounded by a wilful and committed crew helped us to go through the whole process.

How did it feel to see your campaign come to life?

Min-hyung: It feels exactly the same as building the highest tower of KAPLA (a building blocks game) – you want to protect it from any destructible forces.

Was the campaign as well received as you had hoped?

Min-hyung: I think the results of the campaign were much higher than expected. We had a great volume of views, shares and encouraging comments on social media. La Cimade recorded a peak of viewers on their website, gained followers and even donations. Even Adweek picked it up and featured an article on it.

“This is really inspiring work.” Dr Cui Su, MA Advertising Course Leader

Valentin : The campaign also received warm support and free media space from TV channels, outdoor organisations, journalists, and photographers. In that way, I think we successfully managed to do what we wanted: putting refugees’ exploits in the spotlight and make people talk about it, as we would do for athletes’ feats.

Can you think of one stand out memory in putting the campaign together?

Min-hyung: I have actually 2 very strong memories – the first one is the bus where we initially talked about the idea and the second one is the bus we took to go to LCC together and present our campaign to the new MA cohort. I think it was the same 453 line!

Valentin : We really have come full circle !

How do you feel your time on the LCC course prepared you for such a role?

Valentin: It’s the place where we came and developed an idea to help change the world of advertising. What else?

Min-hyung: It reassured us to know that advertising is not so bad after all. It’s not always evil!

What has been the most rewarding part of this journey?

Min-hyung: Seeing all the great comments on our video on Facebook.

Valentin: Yes totally, it helped people to go beyond the single vision they had on refugees.

What advice would you give to students of the same course who are inspired by your work?

Min-hyung and Valentin: Whatever you are trying to achieve, if you are acting for good, it is definitely worth spending all your time on it. In a formal sense, be ground-breaking, be intuitive and most of all, remain simple.

Are you working on any other exciting projects? If so, what are they about?

Min-hyung: We are working with La Cimade to prepare a second phase of the campaign – with the aim of increasing impact on the ground.

What is next for you?

Min-hyung and Valentin: To continue to stick around the world of advertising and create brilliant work together as a team.

Follow Min-hyung’s Twitter and Valentin’s Instagram.