There are some advertisements that are designed to shock you and to make you stop and think….. The collaboration of Unicef and the smurfs did just that back in 2005.
The Unicef advertisement campaign that originally appeared on Belgium television was designed to show that war can happen in the most innocent of places even in the Smurf Village.
This powerful ad was shown after 9pm so not to upset younger viewers and created a lot of reactions around the world. People were wanting to know why would anyone want to bomb the Smurf Village.
The ad begins with the familiar image of the Smurfs dancing and singing their theme song with birds and butterflies. Then, warplanes appear and start dropping bombs, setting the mushroom houses ablaze. Smurfette is killed and smurfs go running for cover. Baby Smurf sits crying in distress. The clip finishes with the written message: “Don’t let war destroy the children’s world” followed by a call for donations.
The ad campaign had permission and full support of Peyo’s family. It also became a major part of Belgium’s Unicef campaign to raise funds and awareness to raise money for the rehabiltation of former child soldiers in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These were both former Belgian colonies.
Unicef and the Smurfs teamed up again in 2008, to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Smurfs with a year long “Happy Smurfday Euro Tour”. The Smurfs visited 15 European countries on the day of their 50th Smurfday and distributed large white Smurf 20cm figurines. The recipients could then decorate and submit them into a competition. The Smurfs were then auctioned off to raise funds towards Unicef.
As part of the campaign Unicef also sold up to 30,000 of these white smurfs to go towards their cause. I feel lucky enough to have one of these white smurfs, which I must confess I never painted or decorated. It simply stands high above the other smurfs on the top shelf of my wall unit, overlooking all my other smurfs below.
Even though the original ad campaign was over ten years ago it still has a strong, powerful impact for those who have not seen the ad before. Congratulations Unicef for your campaign will forever be remembered.
Keep on Smurfin