MORE THAN A REFUGEE

Amplifying refugee voices by harnessing the power of YouTube creators.

The Problem

65 million people have been displaced from their home but the predominant media narrative presents refugees as people to fear or pity. In commentary about this enormous humanitarian crisis, there is a voice so often missing: that of refugees themselves.

Idea

YouTube is a platform where marginalised perspectives can be celebrated and heard. For World Refugee Day, we saw the opportunity to tell a different kind story: to give refugees a platform, and to show audiences the real people who exist beyond the headlines.

Working with the International Rescue Committee, we invited seven popular YouTube creators to meet refugee they shared something in common with. To spend meaningful time with and to create a video together that amplified the refugee’s voice.

Each creator had cultivated a distinct and passionate fanbase of their own, and through this unique connection, was able to cut through with a positive and relatable film. Audiences saw refugees as relatable equals; people with their own story, experiences and hopes, and so much #MoreThanARefugee.

The campaign

Each YouTube creator was matched with a refugee with a common interest, and approached the project not as celebrity there to observe, but as a creator there to create and collaborate with the refugees they met.

Popular LGBT campaigner Tyler Oakley met Shadi, a man forced to leave his home because of his sexuality, and shared his story.

Rossana Eh Bee, who creates videos about her own family in Canada, traveled to Jordan to meet Amira, and connected as two mothers raising families.

Soccer pundit Francis Maxwell of the Young Turks network traveled to Uganda to meet Catherine, a soccer player, who taught him about the true power of sport.

Travel vlogger FlyWithHaifa met Maryam, a teenager who had walked from Iraq to Serbia, and taught her how to vlog her own day.

And ASAPScience, an education channel, visited a refugee camp in Greece and learnt “How to Build A Refugee Camp” from residents and staff.

Together these stories were also collated into an anthem film, published by YouTube on their own channel. Reaching a broader audience of YouTube users, this video delivered a powerful message about the importance of hearing refugee voices, and YouTube’s commitment to making this happen.

Results

The goal of #MoreThanARefugee was to reach as many people as possible with a positive message about refugees; to amplify refugee stories as widely as possible, and counter the prevailing media narrative.

  • There were 18 million views of anthem and YouTuber’s own videos across 195 countries.

  • There was a passionate response from viewers, with over 980 million social impressions, and tweets from influencers like Ricky Martin and John Legend.

  • YouTube's most viewed brand campaign of 2017 so far, and 4th most viewed of all time.

  • Across the web the message rang clear: that each refugee is a person, with a voice that must be heard.