Amsterdam, 1st August 2023 – Publicis Groupe Benelux and Boomerang’s hard-hitting WikiTruth campaign for ‘Ukrainian Witness’ that recently won bronze in the SDG category at the Cannes Lions of Creativity 2023, has been announced as beneficiary of profit-sharing scheme amongst all winners of the category, with proceeds going to Ukrainian Witness.
Borne out of the need for capturing and depicting what was actually happening on the ground in the Ukraine during the Russian offensive, Ukrainian Witness produces both long-form and short-form content with a global audience in mind. In addition it aims to counteract the propaganda produced by the Russian Federation and distributed to its civilians about the realities of the war.
Within its first two weeks, Ukrainian Witness became a full-fledged editorial office, producing both long-form and short-form videos for its social media channels and international news outlets funded entirely by donations. When social media pages and western-based media organisations’ content were blocked by the Russian government, Publicis Groupe Benelux and Boomerang stepped in.
‘When people think about this war, they only think about what they see on the news, but they don’t realise that there is also a propaganda war happening at the same time,’ says Publicis Groupe Benelux CCO Eduardo Marques. ‘So in order to play our part to ensure the truth was seen by not only the global media, but also by Russian civilians, we started updating the Wikipedia pages of bombed Ukrainian cities – the only platform that was not banned by the Russian government.’
Within days, these pages were updated with pictures of the reality on the ground, until Russian bots started deleting the updates.
‘This is when the war on the ground and the propaganda war became a cyber-war with the Wikipedia community rallying behind the initiative uploading up-to-date pictures depicting the devastation of the Russian forces on the ground in the Ukraine,’ continues de Marques. ‘We also contacted the world’s most influential Wikipedia editors directly and asked them to keep making changes. And to make them last.’
Wikipedia statistics showed that the approach worked with the number of editors and the edits they made more than doubling and the total number of Russian views increasing by 242%.
Speaking about the donation, Olga Buzunova, Ukrainian Witness co-founder says the proceeds from the Cannes Lion win will be used to continue to fund the organisation as it grows, while also investing in new forms of content such as making a documentary about the war to-date.
‘Ukrainian Witness is not just about the war and winning it on all fronts, it’s about continuing to do what’s important,’ says Buzunova. ‘We need to tell real life stories from the perspective of Ukranians so that these atrocities will never be forgotten, never be repeated and that the world understands that war needs to be fought on all fronts; not just on the battlefields,’
This sentiment is echoed by Fikret Fetahovic, Chief Production Officer at Boomerang, ‘People often ask us why we do what we do and this is the perfect example; making a tangible difference for the people making a visible difference in the world. We would like to thank Cannes Lions for its generous donation and trust Ukrainian Witness continues to show the world what the hell of war looks like through the eyes of those living through it.’