Last year pictures of a Cordaid campaign from 2007 went viral. The images of Kenyans of the Samburu tribe posing as fashion models with a handbag, sunglasses or a beer, reached 50 million people. Colleagues Arjanne van der Bijl and Judith Maat went back to Kenya to see how it goes with the now world famous models.
Once upon a time…
The “Small Change, Big Difference” campaign was devised to stir Dutch consumers with bold, confrontational photographs. Together with PR agency Saatchi & Saatchi Kenyans of the Samburu tribe posed with the kind of consumer goods we buy so easily in the Netherlands. A bag, a beer, sun glasses… We hardly ever stop and think when we buy these items. Let alone that we realize that the money we spend on them can make a big difference in the lives of people affected by disaster.
The images were shown on billboards, postcards and other media channels. Just a somewhat different way of drawing attention to the basic needs of people worldwide.
Now, eight years later, the images are widely viewed and discussed again on social media.
After its launch in 2007 the campaign received a lot of comments. It got compliments, raised eye brows and kicked up dust. It was not for nothing that Saatchi & Saatchi won the prestigious Cannes Silver Lion Award with this provocative campaign.
More than 8 years later the campaign images still evoke a lot of responses. In the spring of 2015 a few people from France and Canada shared some of the pics on Twitter after seeing some items on well known Australian and German marketing websites The Inspiration Room and Gute Werbung. The Indian news website The Hindustan Times was the first to mention the campaign as going viral and Spain and Canada followed suit. A Facebook post from Zoom Radio from Costa Rica alone was shared 80,000 times on social media.
And how are the models doing today?
Did the Samburu models know all along that their images went around the world? And what do they think about this? Above all: how are they doing today? Colleagues Arjanne and Judith went back and filmed special meetings. This is what they encountered:
Look here at what happened to the other two fashion models, Elisabeth and Paraput.
And finally, what is the link between the images and Cordaid’s work?
The models communicate their own story. A story about years of drought and hardship. The Samburu tribe lives in the northern part of Kenya, near Maralal. For years they have been forced to cope with growing periods of drought. Cordaid has been working in this area for more than a decade. We assist the Samburu in adapting to changing circumstances. For example by experimenting with new ways of farming and entrepreneurship. Drought remains a major problem in the region, partly as a result of climate change. Not only in Kenya but also in countries like Ethiopia.