How the War in Ukraine Is Changing Advertising Communications
Advertising in Ukraine was already moving towards socially significant topics before the war, but the invasion of the country’s territory accelerated the transition of brands to reliable and relevant communication.
In Ukraine, simply advertising products is no longer sufficient; brands must also exhibit social responsibility. Consumers now prioritise brands that take an active civic stance, support Ukraine, and contribute to addressing critical social issues, particularly those related to combatting aggression. Therefore, the largest international festival in Ukraine – Kyiv International Advertising Festival – has been focusing the attention of the advertising community on socially significant communications for the second year in a row.
“The war showed what is really important for people and businesses in critical moments. “We, as KIAF organisers, should remind the advertising community how advertising can be a powerful force for change, as well as support and reward those who are already making the world a better place through socially oriented communications.”Maksym Lazebnyk, General Director at the All-Ukrainian Advertising Coalition.
For advertising to be a powerful voice that pushes the world to change, all sides of the advertising market – advertisers, agencies and consumers – must support socially significant topics. A recent Ipsos study on global trends for 2023 revealed that consumers now support socially responsible brands even if they come at a higher price. The study showed that most consumers view businesses as capable of promoting societal good, with 80% of participants agreeing that brands can effectively make a profit while supporting worthwhile causes. Brands are also increasingly aware of their social responsibility:
“I think that companies have rights. But have some duties too. Participating in the collective effort of giving a better planet to the generation to come is part of their duties. Consumers accept that brands make some money, it’s their right, but they want them to use a part of the money they market for the benefit of all. That’s the implicit deal between consumers and brands. Creativity is a powerful tool for business and an even more powerful tool to change behaviours for good! Our creativity won’t change the world on its own, but it can be a major asset to achieve the goals for the greater good.”Gaetan du Peloux, KIAF Jury Chairman of PEACE contest, Chief Creative Officer at Marcel from France
Nova Poshta, the leading logistics company in the Ukrainian express delivery market, is a compelling illustration of a brand that embodies active social responsibility through its communication strategies. Nova Poshta is actively supporting Ukrainians affected by the war. The company has opened branches in Poland and Lithuania, with plans to expand into Romania, Germany, and the Czech Republic to enable displaced Ukrainians to receive parcels from their loved ones back home.
“Since the beginning of the war, we have not paused for a moment. We had no other options. At the beginning of the war, when people fled with only backpacks, only Nova Poshta carried things. And we understood at that time and now understand all our responsibility for transportation for people, the military and businesses. Now we deliver faster than before the war.”Olena Plakhova, Director of Reputation Management and Marketing, Member of the Directors’ Board at the Nova Poshta group.
Nova Poshta has also launched its own airline, SuperNova, which will begin operating in May. In addition to supporting the country’s economy, providing employment opportunities, and delivering humanitarian aid to frontline areas and liberated settlements, Nova Poshta also develops inspiring advertising communications to uplift and encourage the Ukrainian people.
“Several aspects of our marketing approach have changed. We switched to point-to-point individual communication with the clients, that is, we do not send one message to all clients, but we select the target audience for each message very carefully, taking into account the life context and people’s emotions of certain audiences. We develop services and products that customers need right now. In communications, we focus firstly on the message we work, later we provide work and pay salaries, later we engage contractors & suppliers and motivate businesses to work, and now we are already broadcasting the message: the future is here, it must be built today. In every communication, you must support people and offer a planning horizon. Each message should shine a little forward like a lantern.”Olena Plakhova, Director of Reputation Management and Marketing, Member of the Directors’ Board at the Nova Poshta group.
Nova Poshta’s recent “Tomorrow will be” winter campaign, displayed in the Kyiv and Kharkiv subways, delivered uplifting messages to Ukrainians during these uncertain times. The campaign reminded people that amidst instability, certain things remain consistent, such as the sunrise, new victories, and the arrival of their packages. Moreover, creatives are becoming increasingly involved in developing socially impactful communications.
Virtue Worldwide from Denmark’s Backup Ukraine campaign is a notable example of such initiatives. BLUE SHIELD, an organisation referred to as the “red cross for culture,” warns that destroying a country’s cultural heritage is a fast way of erasing its national identity. Despite being wrapped in numerous sandbags and protective covers, Ukraine’s cultural heritage is at significant risk of destruction. Thus, the Backup Ukraine project aimed to preserve the country’s cultural heritage by creating a digital backup in the cloud, a place beyond the reach of bombs and destruction.
UNESCO has enabled Ukrainian citizens to contribute to preserving their cultural heritage by creating high-quality 3D models using just their mobile phones. This initiative has resulted in the backup of numerous sculptures, surpassing collections from some of the world’s most renowned museums. Six NGOs have pledged their assistance to support this effort, and seven international firms have donated equipment, funding, and aid to volunteers on the ground. In preparation for worst-case scenarios, some firms even 3D printed replicas of threatened statues. UNESCO’s National Commissioner has also taken to the airwaves to encourage neighbouring countries to follow suit and begin scanning their heritage before it’s too late.
According to the KIAF organiser, the socially significant communications contest program has received submissions from 22 countries. The PEACE contest, which focuses on combating war, aggression, genocide, and crimes against humanity, received the most entries. The festival has received submissions from various countries, including Australia, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, UK, Ukraine, USA, and Venezuela. The leading international agencies welcome the initiative to focus on socially significant topics in advertising and join the festival and the global trend as a whole.
“Creativity is not just a ‘nice to have’, it’s an absolute necessity for progress in today’s world. Without it, we risk falling behind and failing to address our complex challenges. Creativity can spark innovation, inspire action, and unite people in a way that nothing else can.”Morten Grubak, KIAF Jury Chairman and Executive Creative Director at Virtue Worldwide from Denmark.
Communications, likewise, are a critical tool for driving change. They can shape people’s perceptions and opinions and can be used to motivate action on a global scale. But with this power comes a responsibility to use communications effectively and ethically and to guard against misinformation and propaganda that can do more harm than good.
“Following World War II, there was a growing openness towards diversity, cultural mixing, advocating for peace, and the belief that the world had experienced its last major war. Unprecedented levels of openness marked the 70s and early 80s. However, since then, the world has turned in the opposite direction. Countries are becoming less open to others, radical political ideas are gaining ground, and war has returned to Europe. What was once inconceivable is now a harsh reality. Therefore, promoting peaceful communication has become necessary, and it is not pleasant to acknowledge this fact.”Gaetan du Peloux, KIAF Jury Chairman of PEACE contest, Chief Creative Officer at Marcel from France
If we want to change the world for the better, we need creativity and communication working together responsibly and effectively. Anything less is simply not impactful enough.
“EACA praises the initiative of its Ukrainian member, particularly in these difficult times when the country and its people are confronting numerous challenges. The festival’s showcased works effectively demonstrate that creativity is not solely about entertainment, amusement, and aesthetically appealing designs, but it can also serve as a crucial means of communicating the right messages to an audience whose primary focus is to overcome adversity. It is gratifying to witness how the creative minds are uniting for the cause of peace and humanity, and perhaps even unintentionally transforming the advertising industry globally.”Tamara Daltroff, CEO of EACA, a longstanding partner of The All-Ukrainian Advertising Coalition.
Like many other sectors, Ukraine’s advertising industry has been significantly impacted by the war in the country. However, despite the challenges, Ukraine strives for progress and urges the international community to support its efforts to make the world a better place. The All-Ukrainian Advertising Coalition, the largest public association of the advertising industry in Ukraine, is inviting creators from all over the world to join in KIAF 2023‘s slogan, “Make the world a better place!” and to develop communications that will serve as a strong catalyst for positive change.