The European Commission's Department For Humanitarian Aid (Echo) Promo, Case study THE HUMANITARIAN LABYRINTH by Golin Harris


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Industry Charities, Foundations, Volunteers
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market Romania
Agency Golin Harris
Released May 2010

Credits & Description

Category: Public Sector
PR Director: Botez Monica (GolinHarris)
Business Development Director: Negoita Raluca (GolinHarris)
PR Manager: Munteanu Raluca (GolinHarris)
Communication Officer: George Janice (Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection)
Media placement: Street Teaser - OOH, Press, Internet - May 10-13 2010
Media placement: Horeca Teaser - OOH - May 10-24 2010
Media placement: Night Of The Museums Events - Event, Press, Online - May 15-16 2010
Media placement: Facebook Page - Online - May 15 2010
Media placement: Humanitarian Labyrinth Press Conference - Event, Press, Online - May 17 2010
Media placement: Humanitarian Labyrinth Expo - TV, Press, Online, Internet, Direct To "consumer" - May 17-24 2010
Media placement: VIP Manifesto - Refugee 48 H - TV, Press, Online - May 23-24 2010
Media placement: Press Release - Conculsions - Press, Online - June 1

Summary of the Campaign

The Humanitarian Labyrinth was an educational campaign developed in Romania for ECHO with the mission of increasing the level of education regarding the EU’s role in alleviating the effects of humanitarian crises.
As the intervention campaigns undertaken by ECHO are financed from EU budget such educational programs have been unfolded in all EU countries as they crossed the border of receptors of humanitarian aid, becoming donors. 2010 was Romania's year.

The campaign was PR led with integrated creative, online and media support for stronger effects.
The campaign unrolled between May/ June 2010 upon three main pillars: interactive & experimental activations, endorsement (which attracted one of the most important TV personalities in Romania and one of the strongest NGOs - the Romanian Red Cross, in support of our cause) and a consistent media relations component.

We started with daring objectives in mind (1/100 Bucharest citizens to have heard about ECHO by the end of the campaign; generate consistent and ongoing media coverage, engage powerful supporters pro bono, organize mass events; engage media outlets pro bono).
"Facts speak louder than words" has been our motto in defining this strategy, which spoke about suffering through experimental approaches. All the objectives have been achieved.

The Situation
ECHO is the European Commission’s department responsible for financing humanitarian aid offered to millions of victims of natural or man-made disasters in countries outside the EU. As the intervention campaigns undertaken by ECHO are financed from EU budget, an important phase in their preparation is that of raising awareness among the public of EU member states with regard to their importance.

Every year, new members of the European Community shift from the position of aid receivers to donors. In 2010, Romania’s turn has come to discover and understand the vital role EU has in helping humanitarian crisis victims.

The Goal
Make ECHO the talk of the town:

- Increasing ECHO awareness among young people (high school students, university students, young professionals) and opinion leaders, and through them, reach the second layer of the public: Romania’s population in general.

- Attract massive media support through creative and consistent approaches

- Attract two powerful partners to sustain the campaign pro bono: one NGO and one local celebrity

- 1/100 Bucharest citizens to have heard about ECHO by the end of the campaign

We based our strategy on thorough research: Eurostat statistics, materials provided by ECHO and a study unrolled in partnership with the Romanian Red Cross regarding ECHO awareness.

The Strategy
Facts Speak Louder Than Words!
Fear, pain and anger are infinitely more intense at an emotional level. If a word can sound empty, the noise of a machine gun spreading terror doesn’t leave anyone unaffected. Hence, empathy has been the backbone of this campaign – ECHO’s message was transmitted through images, sounds and emotions in events, mass media & social media and through a VIP endorsement stunt.

Key messages:
ECHO is the European Commission’s department for financing humanitarian aid offered to victims of natural or man-made disasters;
The main disasters which vulnerable countries outside the EU are facing are hunger, natural disasters and armed conflict;
Romania, as EU member state, is changing its position and evolves from beneficiary to donor of aid, getting involved in helping other countries in need.

Mix of channels:
Special events;
Mass media;
Above the line support;
Interactive street installations;
VIP endorsement;
Information materials;
Social media.

The campaign developed in four stages between May & June 2010 and developed a mix of PR led tools. The actions were based in Bucharest but the amplification was national:

Teasing/ PR buzz: sounds of disasters played from speakers installed on utility poles. People’s reactions have been viralized through social media and press;

Reveal - the White Night of the Museums, four of the most visited museums in Bucharest hosted our four interactive exhibition modules where visitors "experienced" humanitarian crises.

The Humanitarian Labyrinth: all the four exhibition modules were reunited for one week in a Humanitarian Labyrinth, placed in Bucharest’s largest park. The labyrinth was inaugurated through a media event hosted in a Red Cross refugee tent.

The VIP Experiment: a famous TV celebrity decided to live for two days as a refugee in a Red Cross tent in support of our cause.

Documented Results
Over 10,000 young people have been directly exposed to the message of the campaign in one single night, during Night of the Museums;
The following week, 10,800 people visited the ECHO Humanitarian Labyrinth in the park;
1 of 100 citizens of Bucharest (20,000 people) have been directly exposed to the messages of the campaign in the Humanitarian Labyrinth, while over 50% of the Bucharest population (1,000,000 people) has been reached through mass media;
Many of the ECHO labyrinth visitors were so impressed that they wanted to donate money on the spot in the interactive modules;
31 journalists attended the media event;
Lucian Mandruta (local VIP) and the Romanian Red Cross joined ECHO, helping us pro bono during the entire campaign;
144 press materials have been generated (an average of 2.3 press materials/ day) and the campaign had free media exposure (outdoor, press, radio, Internet, TV) of over 250,000 Euro.