Image case studies

“Conflict Diamonds” Campaign

Organisation: Amnesty International USA

Goal: Spread awareness aboutthe sale of “conflict diamonds” in USA

Audience: Supporters of Amnesty International and the general public

Format: Flash animation

Animation can be a very effective way of getting a message across quickly and simply. The short Flash animated video created by Free Range Studios for Amnesty International USA addresses the sale of conflict diamonds in America. $200 million of annual profits from the sale of diamonds in the international market helps to fund the continuing civil war led by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone.

The animation, through a series of simple images, concise text and a provocative soundtrack tells the story of a diamond's journey from Sierra Leone to someone's finger in the US. It is at once enjoyable, for its slick and cleverly put together format, and uncomfortable to watch due to its content. It encapsulates the unjust brutalities meted out against civilians and mine workers at the hands of the RUF in their quest to control the diamond mining regions of Sierra Leone in a few short cinematic seconds. The animation  ends with a plea for action from the public with specific instructions to contact a member of Congress about a ban on conflict diamonds entering the country. This an excellent example of how just by capturing your audience's attention for a brief moment, a problem, and a realistic means for individuals to contribute toward a solution, can be communicated.

View the video at the Amnesty USA site

Homelessness Awareness Campaign

Organisation: Bob Maguire Foundation, Melbourne, Australia

Goal: Raise awareness about homelessness

Audience: The general public

Format: Stickers on rubbish bins

An Australian organisation, the Father Bob Maguire Foundation, targets homelessness. With the aim to spread awareness about the plight of the homeless to the Melbourne public in unexpected, day-to-day spaces, they started a guerilla marketing campaign using public bins as their medium. Stickers of a knife, fork, spoon and serviette were affixed around the top opening of the bin, framing the contents of the bin to look like food on a dinner plate. Brett Williams, who worked on the campaign, says that this transmitted a hard-hitting message to pedestrians: “The campaign was placed on the top of public bins to remind people that there are those who must consume what they are discarding so frivolously. ”The message was driven home with the slogan and request: “for the homeless, every day is a struggle. Donate today and help us feed the homeless”. The local council agreed to let the foundation sticker 50 city bins for a period of two months. This campaign is an example of how a relatively inexpensive format can be used in an unexpected way to produce a strong visual impact and a thought-provoking message.

Father Bob's blog


Posters against child labour

Organisation: Good50X70, web-based  Amsterdam, Netherlands and Milan, Italy

Goal: Spread awareness about child labour and the use of design for humanitarian causes.

Audience: Supporters and partners of Amnesty International, AMREF, Greenpeace, LILA, World Wildlife Fund as well other NGOs and the wider design community.

Format: Photographs and images on posters

“There’s no more instant form of communicating a message than a poster” say the people behind Good50X70, aweb-based organisation that aims to use design for effective social communication and activism. They run an annual contest open to individual artists, activists, designers and photographers, to create a poster design addressing one of seven global human rights issues submitted by a group of NGOs including Amnesty International, and Greenpeace. The selected posters are then collected in an exhibition and made available for charities' own campaigns. These posters are easily distributed on the internet and in public spaces, providing a valuable resource for charities who wish to use them.

This selection of images form part of the 2009 contest and are all centred on the theme of child labour and share the message that 'work' is incongruous with the importance of education in children's development. These examples demonstrate how simple design – all of them use just photographs and computer-generate images – can produce eye-catching material and a poignant and empathetic message. In this way, images can speak for themselves without depending on text-heavy descriptions.   

More images available at the Good50X70 website