Advertising Campaign Demobilises Colombian Terrorists

By Institute Of Practitioners In Advertising ipa, PRNE
Monday, October 31, 2011

LONDON, November 1, 2011 -

An advertising campaign that has managed to reduce the number of FARC terrorists by appealing to their sense of humanity was last night (1st November) awarded the Grand Prix at the prestigious IPA Effectiveness Awards, the world’s most rigorous competition that rewards campaigns that have proved the commercial power of their ideas and demonstrated their marketing payback.

The highly effective ‘FARC Operation Christmas’ campaign for the Colombian Ministry of Defence, created by international advertising agency Lowe-SSP3, reduced the number of  Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) rebels, who commit acts of terrorism on average once every three days, by appealing to their humanity. This was achieved following insight that revealed Christmas was the most sensitive period for these Colombian guerrillas.  

Consequently ‘Operation Christmas’ was created; two anti-guerrilla contingents and two Black Hawk helicopters travelled into the depths of the Colombian jungle to cover trees with 2,000 LED lights, alongside banners exhorting the guerrillas to lay down their arms.

As a result of the campaign 331 FARC members were encouraged to demobilise and re-enter society. The year-on-year reduction in guerrilla numbers is estimated to return over £2.3m to Colombian government through tax receipts, a £11.35 ROMI, and the benefits to Colombian society and economy through a reduction in FARC’s illegal ‘fundraising’ is estimated to be £1m in the first year.

The success of the operation also led to a TV commercial being produced showcasing the activity, which was broadcast on primetime television during Christmas (watch: which created widespread international and national media coverage, as well as mass web and social media coverage.

Says Lord Black of Brentwood, Executive Director, Telegraph Media Group and Chairman of Judges for the Awards: “The judges were all in agreement that this case was something special. The profound insight and creative execution should be hailed as an inspiration for the industry. This campaign is a definitive winner for the Grand Prix.”

Says Charlie Snow Director of Strategy, DLKW Lowe and Convenor of Judges: “This campaign is a truly remarkable piece of experiential activity in the jungles of Colombia that moved and inspired the entire judging panel. It is an extraordinary story of truly brave communications, and as the agency asserts, demonstrates that by using insight, creativity and endeavour, communications can change lives and act as a powerful, yet fundamentally peaceful, weapon of war.”

Says Lindsey Clay, Managing Director, Thinkbox - the overall Awards sponsor:

“Nothing is more important in advertising than effectiveness: actually making a difference, which is what this campaign does so well. It is a shining example of a creatively conceived, integrated, multi-media campaign that included the effective use of TV, which has been highly successful in meeting its tough objective of reducing terrorist numbers. Congratulations to Lowe-SSP3 on this incredible achievement.”

In addition to winning the Grand Prix, the campaign was also awarded the Special Prizes for Best International campaign and Best Social Value campaign at the IPA Effectiveness Awards.

More information about the Awards:

The IPA Effectiveness Awards reward campaigns that have proved the commercial power of their ideas and demonstrated their marketing payback, and they provide the richest communications database in the world. This year they were open to campaigns from global agencies, media owners, and clients, with a total annual marketing communications budget of up to £2.5 million.

In total, four Gold Awards, five Silver Awards, six Bronze Awards and nine Special Prizes were awarded:

Special Prizes:

Grand Prix, sponsored by Thinkbox
Program of Humanitarian Attention to the Demobilised, by Lowe-SSP3

Best International, sponsored by Warc
Program of Humanitarian Attention to the Demobilised, by Lowe-SSP3

Best Social Value
Program of Humanitarian Attention to the Demobilised, by Lowe-SSP3

Best Social by Design, sponsored by Facebook
first direct, by Mindshare

Best Newcomer, sponsored by Campaign
Marie Curie Cancer Care, by DLKW Lowe

Best Channel Planning
Aquafresh Kids, by MediaCom and Kids Industries  

The Channon Prize for Best New Learning, sponsored by Campaign
Marie Curie Cancer Care, by DLKW Lowe

The Broadbent Prize for Best Dedication to Effectiveness, sponsored
by Clear Channel
first direct, by Mindshare

Effectiveness Company of the Year, sponsored by Thinkbox
Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Gold winners:  
Depaul UK, by Publicis
Marie Curie Cancer Care, by DLKW Lowe
Ovaltine, by WCRS&Co/Engine
Program of Humanitarian Attention to the Demobilised, by Lowe-SSP3

Silver winners
Aquafresh Kids, by MediaCom and Kids Industries  
first direct, by Mindshare
Jungle Formula, by VCCP
Organ Donor Register, by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
Promote Iceland, by The Brooklyn Brothers

Bronze winners
East Midlands Trains, by LIDA
Fiat, by AKQA
Lynx, by Tullo Marshall Warren 
McCain Wedges, by PHD Media 
Pepsico Walkers, by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
The Economist, by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

To view the winning campaigns and the creative work, and for more information about the Awards, visit: You can also join the conversation on Twitter: #IPAEff

The Gold, Silver and Bronze award-winning case papers are featured in Advertising Works 20, out today (2nd November). The book is the latest in the series of Advertising Works publications from the IPA, and also contains insight and analysis from experts across the advertising industry. The book costs £130 and is available to buy from the IPA website:

The 2011 IPA Effectiveness Awards are sponsored by Thinkbox (overall sponsor), Warc, official publishers of the effectiveness case histories; Clear Channel and Facebook and supported by industry magazine Campaign.

Note to editors:

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) is the trade body and professional institute for UK advertising, media and marketing communications agencies. It was established in 1917 as a servicing body and to negotiate on behalf of its members with media bodies, government departments and unions. Its 253 corporate members handle over 80% of the UK’s advertising agency business which has an estimated value (excluding press and TV production) of £17.7 billion. 

For further information: Press Office, tel: +44(0)20-7201-247

will not be displayed