At the end of March this year, UNICEF created a three-part animated film series, "Unfairy Tales," to put human faces to the stories of Syrian child refugees.
Now, the charity has built on that initiative by taking the animated journey of one child, "Mustafa Goes for a Walk," and turning it into an interactive storybook. Users can work their way through Mustafa’s story, explore his surroundings, and have an impact on the narrative. In a voiceover, Mustafa describes the reasons for fleeing from his homeland, and the hardships and terrors he has endured along the way.
The Unfairy Tales campaign was created by agency 180LA, and has had considerable success so far, with more than 500 million people across 176 countries viewing the films. Agency executive creative directors Rafael Rizuto and Eduardo Marques say they thought an interactive storybook would help bring the stories to life, creating awareness and understanding that children, no matter where they are from, deserve a fair chance in life.
The interactive storybook was created by digital creative production company, Media Monks. Creative director Alex Danklof says the idea was to make the user part of the story. "The user makes difficult choices like Mustafa had to do and takes the viewer from a passive audience member to an active member," says Danklof. "The viewer is immersed into the lives of the children in these stories, allowing them to really get a sense of the journey they experienced."
Danklof says the intention was to tailor the experience to native digital behaviors. "The ways parents and their children interact with mobile devices are tab and swipe based. Following this behavior we didn’t have to explain how to interact, so the focus is all about the story without any distraction from the user interface," says Danklof.
However, the process of translating the story into a different format was not without its difficulties. Danklof says one challenge was finding the right balance between the beautifully crafted animations and the interaction, while also keeping the powerful ending in place. "It’s the switch from a playful storybook to the real world that delivers the Unfairy Tales message," he says.
Like the earlier films, the storybook invites users to help with "act of humanity," asking them to share, learn, and discuss the refugee and migrant crisis.