Good Campaign of the Week is a regular feature that celebrates creative social good campaigns. Each Monday, together with Branding Magazine, we highlight a new project from across the globe that demonstrates a positive social message with innovation at its heart – showcasing the brands and businesses using creativity to do well by doing good.
The Battlefield Casualties Social Good Campaign
If you’re of a certain generation, your memories of the ’90s will no doubt be bathed in nostalgic tones and heavily feature toy adverts. Regardless of your age, these new online videos will have you weeping, cowering, and no-doubt showing your friends.
In a series of four films, Matt Berry’s naturally laughable voice is juxtaposed with disturbing scenes which will have you running for cover. Whilst the immediate reaction is to snigger at Action Man as a fallen hero, it soon becomes clear that the reality this campaign aims to highlight is very dark indeed.
These mock-commercials see Action Man transformed into a figure mentally and physically broken by life in the armed forces. The client, Veterans For Peace UK,is an organisation made up of ex-service people who educate young people on the nature of war, and resist war and militarism.
The opening, scratchy clips of Mr. Blobby and Live & Kicking soon make way for the increasingly dark tone, reminiscent of AdultSwim’s 2014 viral "Too Many Cooks." We see a child playing with Action Man in depressing and dystopian scenes—as may be experienced by those joining the armed forces. What sounds like a great new toy feature is in fact a horrendous consequence of life in the army. “Identify the body – with dog tags!” Berry exclaims, as we see Action Man lying in pieces in a morgue. It may not be a campaign that we’ll all be watching on repeat, but for its audience of impressionable teens it’s sure to create the conversation it wants.
Director Price James, represented by Agile Films, is perhaps most famed for his music videos; his similarly lo-fi “OK” video for Shitdisco earned a place in the D&AD Annual. The films are a result of his collaboration with counter-cultural illustrator and writer Darren Cullen, whose many side projects include a forthcoming Margaret Thatcher Museum. The films launched with an exhibition at London’s Red Gallery, where the toys and dioramas were on display. Online, the film is designed to send viewers to battlefieldcasualties.co.uk — a retro themed website that invites you to take action to stop the recruitment of under-18’s into the British armed forces.
Controversial and challenging, “Battlefield Casualties” is a campaign designed to get people talking. If it means fewer young people are killed in action, then all the better.
Watch Agile Films' 'Action Man: Battlefield Casualties'
D&AD Impact seeks to identify and celebrate great, transformative ideas that contribute towards a better, fairer and more sustainable future for all. If you think you have a campaign that makes a real and positive difference to the world then why not enter it into D&AD Impact.