The UN Voices Project

The United Nations has launched an interactive outdoor poster, press and online advertising campaign using mobile phone technology to link portraits with voice messages from people whose plight normally goes unseen and unheard. Seven different posters have been set up around various sites in Sydney featuring people with a story to tell. These posters feature; Loula (a domestic violence survivor), Foday (a Refugee from Western Africa), Shannon (Aboriginal youth worker and activist), Nathan (a 13 year old born with HIV), Tony (a homeless man), Nada (a Muslim Australian) and Uncle Max (an Aboriginal Elder).

Nada a Muslim Australian woman in UN Voices campaign

“Photograph my mouth with your mobile. Send it to 0428 641 658. Within a few minutes your mobile will ring and you’ll hear my story.” The UN Voices Project, Giving Everyone A Voice, is online at

Foday a refugee from Western Africa in UN Voices campaign

People around Sydney are encouraged to take a mobile phone photo of the featured person’s mouth and send it to a number on the poster as a text message. Then using digital image recognition technology and an Australian first call back service, the sender receives a return phone call with a pre-recorded message from the person they have photographed, giving a brief insight into how they live and highlighting some of the issues they face. The message then directs people to a UN website where visitors can leave their own comments and thoughts, turning the original seven voices into thousands.

Click on the image below to play the case study video.

Tony - homeless in UN Voices campaign

Bro Black in UN Voices campaign

Uncle Max in UN Voices campaign

Nathan a 13 year old born with AIDS in UN Voices campaign


The Voices Project was developed pro bono at Saatchi & Saatchi Australia, Sydney, by creative directors David Nobay and Steve Back, creatives Vince Lagana and Steve Jackson, business managers Simone Bartley, James Tracy-Inglis, Steven Lacy, Bree Lennon, print production manager Joe Churchward, agency producer Kate Whitfield, head of digital and direct Paul Worboys, digital and emerging media creative head Brian Merrifield, working with Abdullah Mbamba, UNIC’s Director, United Nations.

Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Simone Bartley commented, “The voices of this campaign tell an Australian story that is completely outside the experience of most people. It’s easy to tune out, to ignore the fact that many Australians face a life in which they suffer abuse, poverty or neglect. By creating new and exciting ways for our consumers to engage and interact with brands, we’re able to ensure we remain at the forefront of creativity and effectiveness. This campaign has allowed us to do both for a great cause.”

All pro bono media space has been organised by Zenithoptimedia by David Cook.

Image technology was produced by Brian Mead and Ghanum Taylor at The Hyperfactory New Zealand.

Sound files were produced by Ralph Van Dijk at Eardrum, recorded at Sandcastle Studios, with support from Gusto Music, Melbourne.

Dialect work was done by Ailsa James.

Photographers were David Knight, Sean Izzard, Petrina Hicks, Scott Newett, Tim Gibbs and Daniel Smith.