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BBDO and Berger create a campaign to find missing children using truck art in Pakistan

The #TruckArtChildfinder campaign which aims to track missing children in Pakistan, has seen BBDO Pakistan/Impact BBDO and Berger Paints collaborate with Pakistani artist/activist Samar Minallah Khan and the NGO Roshni Helpline.

Trucks in Pakistan tend to be decorated with paintings of people (usually politicians, military leaders or actors), animals and calligraphy. BBDO and Berger have begun painting some trucks with the pictures of missing children, turning these vehicles into travelling billboards.

Berger is supplying the paint and is incorporated into the art, which also includes the number for Roshni Helpline, an NGO that specialises in finding missing children. 

It is believed this will increase the possibility of spotting and recovering children who may have been trafficked to different parts of the country. 

#TruckArtChildFinder

Every year, over 3000 children go missing in Pakistan. We decided to help by partnering with Roshni Helpline – 1138 and Samar Minallah Khan to create #TruckArtChildFinder

Posted by Berger Paints Pakistan on Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Impact BBDO’s regional creative director for Middle East and  Pakistan Ali Rez said: “This was a real problem which needed a strategic solution. Missing children are often displaced quickly within the country, and we needed a mobile mechanism to spread the word. Trucks were a natural fit.

“Truck art is something Pakistanis grew up with, and so a connection was made.”

The campaign is currently four weeks old and includes 20 trucks painted with the photos of children, plying the roads and highways of Pakistan.  BBDO intends to have 500 vehicles carrying these images over the next six to eight months.

Asked if it is likely to be an ongoing campaign, with the images of children replaced, Rez said: “We would like this to be a part of regular truck art, ultimately devoid of the brand pushing it.

“Even now, truck drivers have approached artists themselves asking for missing children portraits to be painted on the back of their trucks.

“Of course, this means a certain degree of involvement of the NGO as well, who are keen to contribute.”

Roshni Helpline has previously run campaigns around a similar theme. A few years ago, in collaboration with Spectrum Y&R and Y&R Singapore, it created  ‘Kites of Hope’, a campaign which saw kites which featured faces of missing children freely distributed before a local festival.

Not all of its work has had the desired impact, though. An ad featuring a mock kidnapping, was edited to appear like actual footage of a kidnapping, and was among the videos that played a role in several episodes of the lynching of suspected kidnappers across the border in India.  

Asked if there was a conscious attempt at creating a campaign that could not be misused, Rez said: “We are, needless to say, sad to see such a gross misuse of a wonderful cause.

“Unfortunately, it’s something that is out of anybody’s control. We didn’t have this concern per se as we feel – and hope – that the opportunity is low to misuse our campaign given the way it is executed.”

The response to the BBDO campaign has been encouraging so far, according to the agency.

Rez said: “In the four weeks the 20 trucks have been on the road, 1,105 calls have been received from 39 different cities across Pakistan, of which 104 were leads for missing children.

“Besides providing serious leads, another major success of the campaign is to make the public aware of Roshni: a beacon of hope for parents who search for their missing children but have nowhere to turn to when the police ignore them.”

Campaigns featuring the faces of missing children have previously enjoyed mixed success.

In the early 90s, rock band Soul Asylum created several different cuts of the video to the song Runaway Train directed by ad filmmaker Tony Kaye, featuring photos of missing children, interspersed with footage of the band.

The actual number of children found via the video is subject to speculation online to date. But it has helped keep the children and their stories in public memory decades after it was first aired.

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