Close-Up: Adam & Eve keeps it real in new ad for Save the Children

The agency wanted to feature real children in their villages, but shooting on location at night with no power proved a challenge.

When we won the Save the Children advertising account last year and sat down to discuss our first campaign, we knew exactly the kind of response that we wanted to evoke - a few tears, lots of debate and thousands of people signing up to add their tweets, voices and support for a cause that can sadly, at times, seem all too far away.

The idea was focused around the theme "No child born to die", encouraging people to give their money so that Save the Children can work towards stopping children from needlessly dying whenever they get ill. It's a big issue, which we knew called for a different approach. But little did we know how challenging delivering that campaign would prove to be.

We knew we had to be different because, shocking as it may seem, we have all become desensitised to the images showing the reality of suffering children that are so common in the sector. We knew we had to be different because Save the Children is an organisation with a mission to deliver positive change for millions of children worldwide. And we knew we had to be different to stand out and command a share of people's time and attention.

And so we devised a campaign that would celebrate the inescapable joy and potential of childhood. After all, this is what Save the Children's staff, its projects and its volunteers across the world fight so hard to keep alive.

The idea was to create something real that people would find moving. We would shoot real children living in areas supported by Save the Children in their own villages. We would show them projections of inspiring global icons who have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to realise their potential. And we would then remind the viewer that, every year, more than eight million children under the age of five - children like these - die needlessly, before they get a chance to realise theirs.

The global icons came from all walks of life - people we all know, but who the children in these remote locations may not be so familiar with. Greats such as Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Usain Bolt and Muhammad Ali.

Creating the magic of the projections led to some logistical difficulties, though. It meant that we had to shoot at night, which is a challenge when shooting in a village in Tanzania that has no electricity to power the lights or the projector.

For six days, we would arrive in a remote Tanzanian village at 2pm and spend the remaining hours of daylight devising improvised lighting rigs: office strip lights (driven down from Nairobi) nailed to the end of three-metre-long wooden poles, and sodium lamps (flown in with us from London) affixed to the end of a ladder borrowed from the local fire brigade.

Because our crew was only five-strong, there were times when we all had to be grips, gaffers and runners. And I'm sure it will be a long time before we are on another shoot where the director can be seen lugging the generators around the location. We also had to find some incredible places to project on to: schools, huts, the sails of a dhow, into the smoke and haze of a fire, trees. For those who are wondering, a densely packed lollipop tree will take a projection better than a Boabab tree (the leaves are too far apart on a Boabab).

And all the time we were doing this, we were surrounded by these incredible children. In one village, as darkness fell and we began to project, there must have been about 500 watching as the ballerina Darcey Bussell pirouetted across the outside of a school classroom.

The children's faces were filled with awe and wonder, it was such a privilege to see. As anyone who has been to Africa will tell you, you are never too far from the beautiful, smiling faces of little boys and girls growing up without any of the things we take for granted. Boys such as Hajiru Mpria, the two-year-old whose face we see light up at the end of the ad. Last year, he contracted malaria, but because he is lucky enough to live in an area supported by Save the Children, he got the treatment that may have saved his life and prevented him, for now at least, from being one of those who may never grow up at all.

- Mat Goff is the head of account management at Adam & Eve.

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