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This is Unilever’s launch film to accompany its latest initiative “Project Sunlight”, launched on 20 November 2013, Universal Children’s Day, in Brazil, India, Indonesia, the UK and the USA. The project is designed to appeal to people everywhere, and in particular parents, encouraging them to join what Unilever sees as a growing community of people who want to make the world a better place for children and future generations.

Now for the critical analysis. As for the messaging in this film, it is a pretty traditional consumer marcomms effort. The main difference is that a standard Unilever advert would be aimed at the familiar domestic problem (dirty hands/clothes/kitchen/children), followed by technical domestic solution that brings safety/cleanliness/happiness/love/security to the consumer. In this film, while it aims to tug heartstrings in the same way (using soft baby fingers, dewy eyes of parent and child), it is out of its depth with geopolitics.

This film tries to bust out of the formulaic lifestyle bubble by graphically showing a harsh world of war and environmental destruction, but then it falls back into its familiar product mindset and says, “don’t worry, you can rely on us and our technologies to solve these unpleasant problems”. For me there is too little pause between the “burnt out, war torn devastation” to the “clean water happy old people” for it to in any way make the audience consider what role they might have to play in the solution. I feel it will leave viewers shocked but comforted that there are techno fixes that will solve things. Which is debatable…

In general, I really admire what Unilever are doing with sustainability and the Project Sunlight launch blurb (found at http://www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/news/news/slp1113-projectsunlight-launch.aspx) says that it wants to use its enormous global reach to change people’s behaviours, and they certainly have a massive global audience, so fair dues to them for having a go.

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