Clever thinking. Beautifully executed.

Child survival sprint

What we did

Hackathon Facilitation


Global children’s charity UNICEF wants to make a difference every day, for every child. In the countries in which they operate, new-borns are especially vulnerable: over 2 million infants sadly don’t survive their first month of life. UNICEF know that solutions are within reach and great progress has already been made - mortality in Under 5s has already halved.  But their mission is to make sure that every child born in the world survives and stays healthy.

To make this possible, UNICEF needs to capture the public attention, raise funds and influence decision-makers to adopt the necessary policies. And to create an ambitious global campaign for child survival.


Our Approach

When Realise Managing Director Fiona Proudler met UNICEF’s Global Head of Brand and Marketing Eric Dekoninck, an idea was born. That rather than push the brief out to one of the many roster agencies, perhaps it was time to think big and to get the very best talent available to solve the problem together.

To collaborate on something new and fresh for the charity.

The #childSurvivalSPRINT hackathon was born!

Realise organised and ran a day long cross-agency hackathon in East London, bringing together 20 industry heavyweights, including players from AMV, VCCP Blue, Leo Burnett and Digitas LBi, who donated their time for free. Together with UNICEF expert staff and led by Realise facilitators, we locked ourselves away to come up with a ground-breaking campaign.


The Solution

Head of Strategy Claire Robinson started the day by explaining the Google sprint methodology and ensuring a laser focus for all participants on the big hairy goal – of creating a campaign! The morning focused on understanding the challenge and the brief, with UNICEF delivering key insights into the issue and the audiences they are trying to reach. We learned the heartbreaking story of mothers in Malawi, where newborns are not named for two weeks for fear they will not survive.

Using creative exercises and collaboration methodologies, the group began to craft their thoughts. Using mothers as our focus audience, we spent time looking at the shared and contrasting experiences of mums around the world. Amanda Warren from Buzzfeed gave some interesting insight by sharing her expertise about communicating with mothers online.  After lunch, teams were drawn up, ideas crystallized, discussed, challenged and refined, with UNICEF acting as decision makers and brand guardians to validate their effectiveness.  

After 9 hours, 60 coffees and countless debates, the team was ready with 5 big campaign ideas for UNICEF to consider for further development and testing. Each message had been crafted to create maximum impact on both a global and a local level, ensuring it could gain digital traction, carry UNICEF’s critical message and be original enough to get real cut through.

It was a hugely positive result, with all parties feeling like they’d had a rare opportunity to collaborate with their industry colleagues and make a positive difference. UNICEF gained invaluable creative input on their campaign, progressing their objectives in an extremely compressed timeframe. They left with the intention of developing all the ideas further.

Fiona and Claire,

You made the impossible look easy. You brought together a group of brilliant, talented, creative minds and you helped us give birth to a remarkable campaign idea. Thank you for using your power for good. You can proudly say this about your day – today you saved some babies.
— Mary Lynn Lalonde, Director of Fundraising, UNICEF