Alphabet of Illiteracy

“Alphabet of Illiteracy”, an interactive feature developed for Pearson’s “Project Literacy” global campaign, has been awarded the Grand Prix for Health and Awareness at the Cannes Lions Health awards. 26 original sculptures by Wilfrid Wood were turned into 3D CGI models to be used in an animated film and linked with a re-write of the 1948 hit “A You’re Adorable”. The A to Z collection highlights the plight faced by people struggling to break out of illiteracy. The film was seeded in the UK across digital platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Unruly and Virool, targeting the millennial audience, with a focus on those who have a particular interest in social issues and those who are highly active and influential in social media. A complementary social media strategy tells the story of each letter and highlights Project Literacy partners’ work, as well as experiences of those affected by illiteracy. This will launch across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr. Each letter has a dedicated Instagram account featuring content on each topic, allowing users to discover each letter of the ‘Alphabet of Illiteracy’ natively on the platform. Outreach will engage key social influencers that include people close to literacy and sustainable development and a number of high profile partners, who will add their voice to the campaign.

Alphabet of Illiteracy

Alphabet of Illiteracy Online houses the entire ‘Alphabet of Illiteracy’. Visitors can read an explanation behind each letter, learning about how Project Literacy partners are tackling each issue. The site encourages people to take action, which could include sharing the film, finding a volunteer opportunity, or signing a petition that asks for the UN to put literacy at the heart of every action to advance the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. On signing, users can create a GIF of their name in the ‘Alphabet of Illiteracy’ letters to be shared on social media. The Project Literacy campaign is also online at Instagram (@ProjectLiteracy), Twitter (@RewritingLives) and Facebook (

A to Z is for AIDS, bloodshed, child brides, drug abuse, ebola, female genital mutilation, gender inequality, homeless, infant mortality, jail, kalashnikov, life expectancy, malnutrition, no childhood, overdose, poverty, quitting school, radicalisation, STDS, trillion dollars, undermined, voiceless, world hunger, XXX, young offenders, and zero options.

Alphabet of Illiteracy A is for AIDS
Alphabet of Illiteracy B is for Bloodshed
Alphabet of Illiteracy C is for Child Brides
Alphabet of Illiteracy D is for Drug Abuse
Alphabet of Illiteracy E is for Ebola
Alphabet of Illiteracy F is for Female Genital Mutilation
Alphabet of Illiteracy G is for Gender Inequality
Alphabet of Illiteracy H is for Homeless
Alphabet of Illiteracy I is for Infant Mortality
Alphabet of Illiteracy J is for Jail
Alphabet of Illiteracy K is for Kalashnikov
Alphabet of Illiteracy L is for Life Expectancy
Alphabet of Illiteracy M is for Malnutrition
Alphabet of Illiteracy N is for No Childhood
Alphabet of Illiteracy O is for Overdose
Alphabet of Illiteracy P is for Poverty
Alphabet of Illiteracy Q is for Quitting School
Alphabet of Illiteracy R is for Radicalisation
Alphabet of Illiteracy S is for STDs
Alphabet of Illiteracy T is for Trillion Dollars
Alphabet of Illiteracy U is for Undermined
Alphabet of Illiteracy V is for Voiceless
Alphabet of Illiteracy W is for World Hunger
Alphabet of Illiteracy A is for XXX
Alphabet of Illiteracy Y is for Young Offenders
Alphabet of Illiteracy Z is for Zero Options

“There are currently 757 million people in the world who cannot read or write. That’s more than the entire population of Europe”, says Emilie Colker, Vice President of Brand and Social Impact at Pearson. “Project Literacy aims to unlock the potential of people, communities, society and whole economies throughout the world. It brings together organisations, spanning from UNESCO to Microsoft to the National Literacy Trust, who work on the ground to tackle the myriad issues that contribute to the millions of people being denied this basic human right. We wanted to clash the emotions people remember from learning their ABC with some of the world’s gravest issues. The tragic fact is that being unable to read and write is not about being unable to enjoy a good book, illiteracy is the root cause of many of the biggest challenges facing humanity.

Owen Lee, Chief Creative Officer, FCB Inferno, said: “Project Literacy is the type of brief that advertising agencies crave. It’s a chance to use our marketing and communications skills to do good in the world. Global illiteracy is a highly complex problem deeply bound up in political, economic and cultural issues, but the idea for the campaign comes from the heart of the problem itself, twenty six little letters that can help solve some of the world’s biggest problems. By clashing the innocence of the ABC and Wilfrid Woods sculptures with some of worst problems facing humanity we hope to evoke conflicting emotions. The resulting campaign is a poignant and memorable body of work that we hope will make a meaningful impact in tackling illiteracy”.

Alphabet of Illiteracy Credits

The Alphabet of Illiteracy campaign was developed at FCB Inferno, London, by chief creative officer Owen Lee, senior art director Julia Ferrier, senior copywriter Martin McAllister, head of strategy Chris Baker, senior strategist Nic Willison, business director Tom Kingham, account director Helena Georghiou, senior account manager Olivia Pearson, account manager Charlie Griffith, producers Charlotte McConnell and Kate Grenfell, social media manager Laura Visick.

Characters were designed by sculptor Wilfrid Wood.

Animation was produced at 1stAveMachine and Red Knuckles with producer Claire Plaskow, executive producer Isabella Parish, senior interactive designer Nick Vassou and interactive producer Kit Peebles.

Social media seeding was by The Village Communications.