Amnesty’s ‘Write for Rights’ campaign returns with a lesson for teens

Who: Amnesty International Canada, with Cossette for strategy and creative; Septième for production (Olivier Jobin directing); Cult Nation for sound; and Cossette Media for media.

What: The latest chapter in the human rights group’s ongoing “Write for Rights” campaign, which urges people around the world to send letters and emails, and/or sign petitions in support of those subjected to abuse and unfair imprisonment for speaking out, protesting, etc. This is the 10th time Cossette and Amnesty International have worked together on the campaign.

When & Where: The national campaign debuted on Dec. 8, timed to coincide with Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, and runs through Jan. 8 across online video, out-of-home, and Spotify.

Why: The “Write for Rights” campaign has been running for 21 years, asking people in more than 200 countries to write letters, emails etc. in support of people who have been harassed, threatened or imprisoned for speaking out. In Canada, 5,800 people took more than 80,000 actions in 2021, part of a global campaign that saw nearly 4.5 million acts of writing.

This year’s campaign is aimed primarily at teens—which Cossette describes as “society’s first true drivers of change”—with a goal of raising their awareness of people living in countries where they can be imprisoned simply for voicing their opinion or engaging in a protest.

How: To highlight the fragility of freedom of expression and demonstrate the impact of letter-writing campaigns, Cossette enlisted prominent people from the arts, including actors Ludivine Reding and Alice Morel-Michaud, French flutist Mathieu Dufour, and comedian Anas Hassouna to deliver dictation lessons to students in 300 Quebec schools.

A two-minute video captures students dutifully taking down the information that’s being relayed to them. It begins with the cultural figures relaying how Canadians are granted freedom of speech, before informing them that that’s not the case in countries like Iran, China and Bangladesh.

They then go on to describe specific situations, such as the case of Bangladeshi engineer and activist Shahnewaz Chowdhury, who faces 10 years in prison for a Facebook post in which he stated that a coal-fired power plant in his hometown was environmentally destructive. It ends by informing students that the time it took to relay the stories of the victims of human rights abuses can be the time it takes to change it. The cultural figures’ dictations are also being shared on the streaming audio app Spotify.

The campaign’s out-of-home component features striking images of people in countries like Russia and China who have been beaten and/or imprisoned for speaking out, accompanied by the line “Unprison opinions,” the Amnesty International logo, and a call for people to “Write for Rights.” 

And we quote: “We saw it several times this year—people from all over the planet took to the streets to defend their rights. To address the subject, we leveraged a brand experience that doubles as an awareness tool.” —Alexandre Jutras, associate creative director, craft and production, Cossette

Chris Powell