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Creative Director’s Choice: Barbarian’s Leo Leone on the United Way’s ‘Unignorable’ color campaign

Creative Director’s Choice gives creative directors a chance to highlight the work they think is the best out in the ad world — the ads and campaigns they believe are making a difference.

This week, Leo Leone, executive creative director at Barbarian, talks about Pantone and Taxi teaming up for United Way Canada on the ‘Unignorable’ campaign that brings light to local issues.

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I came up in the pre-Google, pre-social-media, pre-paid media, pre-high-speed internet era. Mood boards were scanned in picture-by-picture after extensive magazine searches and augmented with personal photos taken on film cameras. Icons and illustrations were always custom, even in comps and pitches. Fonts were currency. You’d go from project to project with a rubber-band stack of Zip disks that housed your digital toolkit and graduate to Jazz disks when you’d been around long enough to justify the extra storage space. There was a level of creative craft that was expected and respected. Even as the internet evolved and became more robust, craft was what defined good creative from the so-so, and was the only guarantee that you might get eyeballs on your efforts.

Somewhere along the way, craft started getting traded for efficiency and curation for quantity. Timeliness, trends and ‘firsts’ began driving creative ideation. So, it was a really pleasant surprise for me to see the latest work from Taxi for United Way Canada. United Way does so much to improve the human condition around the world that their singular message is often lost on most of us. Taxi succinctly redefined that message as ‘making human issues unignorable’ and built a thoughtful and crafted creative brand platform.

They partnered with Pantone to create a custom neon coral brand color, also named ‘unignorable’, to be the thread that ties all United Way initiatives together (and to be the PR headline that got our attention). They worked with artist Malika Favre to create posters, OOH and digital assets that are provocative, beautiful and timeless at the same time. And they created six-second digital videos that followed a formula but have been directed and shot in such a way that each one can stand alone and evoke as much emotional response as the previous. Of course, all key moments are punctuated in 'unignorable' orange.

I look forward to seeing how this work resonates and serves as an example of creative craft and thoughtfulness being alive and well with those brands and agencies that understand its enormous value.

Leo Leone is executive creative director at New York agency Barbarian.

See the work by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

To see the latest creative ads and campaigns, visit The Drum’s Creative Works section. If you would like to feature a creative director in our Creative Director’s Choice, please contact Creative Works editor Kyle O’Brien.

: 'Unignorable'

Date: November 2018
You can't solve a problem if you don't know it exists. In our busy world, important local social issues can often go unnoticed. United Way wants to change that. That's why the United Way announced that is has partnered with the Pantone Color Institute to create Unignorable – a brand new colour developed specifically to highlight local issues and bring attention to the millions of Canadians impacted by them. This new colour is the foundation of the United Way's largest integrated public awareness campaign to date. The coral shade stands out from its surroundings, draws immediate attention and with its high physicality, induces people to act.
The multi-media, fully integrated campaign, draws on a long tradition of art for social change. It includes images designed by international illustrator Malika Favre, whose bold pieces have appeared on the cover of The New Yorker and within campaigns for Vogue, BAFTA and Sephora. Favre's customized designs will captivate onlookers with the Unignorable colour at the forefront, while the illustrations will command attention for issues that hold too many Canadians back: poverty; youth unemployment; social isolation; domestic violence; hunger; mental health; education inequality; and homelessness.   
The campaign's launch film, directed by Montreal-based Benjamin Nicolas, uses colour as a universal language to remind everyone that poverty and inequality surround us. Awareness is just the beginning, the difference-maker is to act. The video and all video assets will live on YouTube and United Way's social channels.
Agency: Taxi
Client: United Way
Tags: Canada


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