Matt Roach and David Lawrie, copywriter and art director, M&C Saatchi

Tell us about the campaign. Ebola is, quite literally, bloody shit. The epidemic has taken more than 6,900 lives and what’s making matters worse is that health workers are being stigmatised in West African communities. "Africa united" aims to raise support and educate people about the disease. So far, we’ve made an outdoor and social campaign and two public-service ads. "#WeveGotYourBack" features footballers [including Yaya Touré and Carlton Cole] declaring "I’m no hero", acknowledging the true heroes by wearing health workers’ names on their backs. The other stars Idris as a coach giving a team talk to West Africa.

How did you get the celebrities involved? Idris was the catalyst. His dad comes from Sierra Leone and he was hell-bent on doing something to help. We pitched ideas to him through Paul Field at TouchCast, and the footballers got involved thanks to Freuds and RadicalMedia. When you have a name like Idris on board, it makes it easier to get conversations started.

What was the biggest challenge? The sheer logistical clusterfuck of collaborating with so many different agencies with such a fast turnaround. We went from brief to launch in seven weeks. There were lots of late nights and weekends.

Where are the ads being shown? We launched during the draw for the Africa Cup of Nations, watched by 75 million people across the continent (which was surreal). Both PSAs are being shown in football stadiums, and billboards featuring health messages have been rolled out in affected areas.

What inspires you? Seeing creative ideas being a force for good. Such as Barton F Graf 9000’s "climate name change", which renamed hurricanes after politicians who deny global warming – a stroke of piss-taking genius that raised awareness of this problem. It’s early days for our campaign in terms of measuring impact, but we’ve seen a video of health workers in Sierra Leone watching one PSA and being visibly moved, which was awesome.

What’s your next project? We may be making a follow-up campaign with NBA stars, aiming to inspire donations from the US. Although the number of cases is dropping, Ebola won’t be beaten until that number is down to zero.


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