International Advertising Association – Hopenhagen


Best Green Third Sector Campaign

International Advertising Association

Background & Objective

In late 2008, with the imperative UN climate change conference (COP15) imminent, the Secretary-General of the United Nations faced a serious challenge. On 7 December 2009, the world’s leaders converged on Copenhagen to discuss the biggest environmental crisis of our time: climate change. The need for agreement on solutions was urgent and the temptation to succumb to a status quo of political equivocation was ever-present. But with so much at stake, the people of the world didn’t seem to know or care. Recognizing that it would be critical to galvanize mass global support for a positive outcome at COP15 in order to pressurise leaders to take decisive action, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon asked an unlikely hero to take up the cause: the global advertising industry.

The challenge was real: how to get people around the world—beyond the usual green suspects—to care and register their support? Typical “green” campaigns had failed to impact audiences in the past and the context was made more difficult as the financial crisis took on greater urgency.


Concept & Implementation

Hopenhagen was a place defined by shared hope and belief that with focus on solutions, change was possible—and could begin in Copenhagen. It helped citizens everywhere articulate their vision for this better future.

An interactive map at formed the heart of the movement’s online terrain, inviting people to declare themselves ‘citizens’ of Hopenhagen and submit messages of hope. Visitors could take the first step towards Hopenhagen citizenship by signing the UN Climate Petition—a pledge of support for a positive outcome at COP15 that was read to delegates at the conference.

Citizens were brought together through social media: The dynamic Facebook community united people around our common cause, providing the tools to organize across borders.

Print, video and live events were also core purveyors of the message, especially in developing nations with less exposure to the digital world. The work was designed to consistently telegraph hope and humanity. Headlines brought to life the belief that a better future for people was possible. Films featured actual citizens expressing their hopes for the future.

Businesses, media owners, NGOs and even the city of Copenhagen itself were drawn to the fresh message and became advocates, running with their own activation ideas. Throughout, Hopenhagen was truly open-source so that anyone could interpret and amplify the message in his or her own way. Hopenhagen was truly a campaign for the people, by the people.



Given the budget and time constraints, Hopenhagen needed to activate people in a position of influence – leading bloggers, NGOs, corporations with large employee bases – to help quickly spread the movement. Thought leader research had shown us a subset of influencers also saw the need for a new, more optimistic message on climate. So Hopenhagen targeted those influencers who would identify with and embrace the ‘Hope’ ethos and turned them into advocates, partners and content co-creators.



Hopenhagen’s multi-channel, open-source approach enabled to create a movement of over 6 million people in just 90 days, over 70% of whom had never joined a climate movement before.

• 6,172,820 Citizens from over 200 Countries/Territories


Along the way, Hopenhagen attracted what is believed to be the largest media donation of its kind in history–350+ traditional media outlets and multiple digital ones.

• 50+ Countries reached via media

• $197.9MM in reported media value.

• 550MM media impressions reported (Total projected 1B impressions)


Hopenhagen dominated digital WOM with over 50% of the buzz in the run-up to the conference, twice the amount of the nearest “climate movement” competitor, despite the fact that and Tck, Tck, Tck are well-established NGOs with long history in the climate communications landscape.



All time spent producing the movement was donated pro bono by the lead and supporting agencies.


Judges thoughts:

The judges loved this campaign. They loved the powerful message of hope, the execution and were impressed by the number of persons reached all over the world. For an instant they hesitated to give the IAA the awards because of the Copenhagen’s deceiving outcomes we all know about. In the end they decided to attribute the award to Hopenhagen as it allowed raising awareness amongst public about the Copenhagen Summit and Climate Change.


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