Campaign spotlight: UNICEF’s ‘Poems for Peace’ and Charity Water’s ‘Pledge your Birthday’

Written by Strategic Agenda’s Communications and Writing team

The annual day, or celebration day, often feels like an easy MarComms win, especially for stretched comms officers and strained social media managers seeking to feed the daily beast.

Put together a graphic, the thinking goes – maybe even a carousel – exhibit the values of your organisation, and elicit a chorus of support from your followers. However, the question needs to be asked: is this really impactful? Is it purposeful? Have you made a difference, or simply ticked a box?

This month, we are highlighting two campaigns, from UNICEF and charity: water , that take on the celebration day a little differently. These two examples show how community engagement and multimedia and multichannel approaches can make your annual day campaign stand out, provide a variety of content options, and closely align your activity with your organisational values and objectives. 

UNICEF’s ‘Poems for Peace’

UNICEF’s ‘Poems for Peace’ (2020 – ongoing) is an annual collection of videos written and performed by young people aged between 8 and 24, living in conflict zones, who channel their creativity and deliver compelling and impactful messages, in spite of the turmoil surrounding them.

Each video in this powerful series focuses on the experiences and poetry of young people from conflict-affected areas. While many share common themes of resilience and hope, each recital is unique, reflecting individual stories and perspectives. Poetry, a universal cultural touchpoint, bridges the intertwined histories of youth, education and conflict, providing a profound medium for expression and communication.

Every year, UNICEF leverages this campaign to celebrate World Poetry Day and support their Peacebuilding and Social Cohesion programme. The campaign’s powerful content aligns with UNICEF’s objectives, using the art of poetry to promote understanding and unity. These compelling videos amplify the message of peace and the importance of education in conflict zones.

What makes this campaign different?

1) Clear link to organisational objectives and programmes

The ‘Poems for Peace’ campaign stands out due to its strong alignment with UNICEF’s core mission and active programmes, particularly the Peacebuilding and Social Cohesion programme. Unlike many celebration day campaigns that focus on broad awareness, ‘Poems for Peace’ directly ties into UNICEF’s strategic objectives by:

  • Highlighting real stories: Each video focuses on the lived experiences of young people in conflict-affected areas, directly showcasing the issues UNICEF aims to address.
  • Promoting education and peacebuilding: The campaign leverages the universal medium of poetry to promote themes of resilience, hope and education, aligning with UNICEF’s goals of fostering peace and social cohesion.
  • Supporting long-term goals: Linking with ongoing initiatives ensures that the campaign the content is not just one-off, but part of a sustained effort to drive change and awareness.

2) Abundance of versatile content

The campaign generates content that is not limited to a single day, but can be utilised throughout the year across various platforms. This approach provides several advantages:

  • Year-round engagement: The content library allows for continuous engagement with the audience, keeping the campaign’s message alive beyond World Poetry Day.
  • Multi-channel distribution: The videos have been shared on multiple platforms, including social media, educational programmes, fundraising events and UNICEF’s own digital channels, maximising reach and impact.
  • Adaptability: The diverse themes and stories within the videos make them suitable for various contexts and audiences, from educational settings to advocacy campaigns, ensuring they remain relevant and impactful.

3) Unique and consistent video style

The style of the Poems for Peace videos sets the campaign apart through its unique and thoughtful production approach:

  • Localised filming locations: By filming in the actual home environments of the young poets, the videos gain authenticity and a powerful sense of place, enhancing their emotional impact and relatability.
  • Consistent aesthetic: The unified filming and editing style across all videos creates a cohesive visual narrative, making the campaign instantly recognizable and reinforcing its message.
  • Emotional storytelling: The combination of personal stories, poetry and visual elements creates a compelling and immersive experience for the audience, effectively communicating the realities of life in conflict zones and the transformative power of education and peace.

UNICEF’s Poems for Peace campaign excels by creating a clear link between its content and the organisation’s broader goals, offering a wealth of versatile content that can be used year-round, and employing a unique and consistent video style that enhances engagement and impact. This strategic and thoughtful approach not only distinguishes it from other annual day campaigns but also ensures it makes a lasting contribution to UNICEF’s mission of promoting peace and education.

Charity Water’s ‘Pledge Your Birthday’ campaign’ (2004 – ongoing)

Since 2004, Charity Water has run the impactful ‘Pledge Your Birthday’ campaign, encouraging individuals to ask for donations instead of birthday gifts to support the global water crisis. By posing the question ‘What’s so special about birthdays anyway?’, this campaign engages a digital community and taps into human empathy.

What makes this campaign different?

1) User-friendly digital experience

  • Simplified landing pages: Charity Water’s ‘Pledge Your Birthday’ page is designed with user experience in mind. Clear steps and intuitive icons guide users through the process, making it easy for anyone to join. The simplicity of the form allows users to quickly and easily sign up to the pledge.
  • Integrated social media posting: The campaign encourages participants to share their birthday pledges with friends and family, fostering organic community growth and increasing website traffic. Creating shareable content and providing easy ways for audiences to spread the word helps to drive organic growth and expand your digital community.


2) Personalised impact statements

  • Transparency in impact: Charity Water clearly communicates that ‘Every $40 you raise will provide clean water to one person who needs it’. This specificity builds trust and satisfaction among donors. Providing specific outcomes for donations helps build trust and motivates supporters to take action.
  • Tailored campaigns: Linking fundraising efforts to personal milestones like birthdays makes the cause personally relevant and emotionally engaging for participants. This highlights how individual participation makes a personal impact, increasing emotional investment.

3) Community-generated content

  • User-generated social media campaigns: Charity Water utilises platforms like Facebook, Instagram and X/Twitter to share engaging content related to the ‘Pledge Your Birthday’ campaign. Additionally, they post stories and highlights of individuals who have pledged their birthdays, share downloadable graphics and easy-to-use assets for content creation, and encourage followers to join the movement. By leveraging the visual nature of social media and incorporating user-generated content, they effectively drive participation and create a sense of community.


By designing user-friendly landing pages, leveraging multi-channel promotion, personalising campaigns, providing clear impact statements and fostering social sharing, Charity Water have created engaging, effective and replicable campaigns. The strategies and tactics used enhance the relevance, engagement and impact of initiatives, ensuring they resonate deeply with their target audience and amplify their cause.


UNICEF’s and Charity Water’s campaigns exemplify how strategic alignment with organisational objectives, user-friendly digital experiences, transparent communication of impact and multichannel engagement can elevate annual or celebration day campaigns, turning moments of celebration into opportunities for meaningful change on a global scale.

These campaigns offer valuable insights and actionable strategies to enhance any annual or celebratory day campaign. By adopting these principles and adapting them to specific contexts, those same stretched and strained communications professionals can create impactful campaigns that speak to their audiences and drive positive change in their communities and beyond.

Looking for more examples of great communications campaigns? Explore our ‘WORK’ section to see some case studies of our own!



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