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Why UNMAS Breakthrough Campaign Didn’t Break Through Instagram

UNMAS: The latest victim to have it’s brand intelligence crushed by Instagram’s selfie “culture”

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and Saatchi, spurred by a really, really clever idea, treated Instagram to a game of Minesweeper. The project had “almost no budget,” demanded round-the-clock maintenance, and required so many burner phones that David Simon had to shelf his Marlo Stanfield spin-off. The message wasn’t met with salvos of praise, nor cries of insensitive shock porn. Save for a small forum of ad enthusiasts, it wasn’t met at all. And that, as we say in the industry, Really Sucks.

You know Minesweeper. Reveal a box by clicking to the linked profile.www.instagram.com/minesweepergame



Then you might be one of the tens of people who saw this:


UNMAS tried bringing Minecraft to Instagram - but their clever idea to spread an important message couldn't compete with the selfie culture
UNMAS tried bringing Minecraft to Instagram – but their clever idea to spread an important message couldn’t compete with the selfie culture

Had you not read the introductory paragraph, that would’ve been a hell of a shock whilst otherwise scouring pictures of food and fitness models on Instagram. Sadly, Instagram doesn’t reward and elevate ideas into public consciousness. Nope. Their algorithm only treasures taps. The bulk of activity on UN’s Minesweeper came from spambots, and the only fanfare it garnered was internal (until award season, if there’s any justice).

This is a cautionary tale for marketers and clients alike: unless your brand includes women whose initials are K.K., you stand to be crushed by the unmitigated magnitude of social content, despite how commendably creative your message is.

From a branding standpoint, I applaud UNMAS for embracing and attacking the norms of social media marketing. The darlings of PSAs, Amnesty International, Reports Without Borders, and the ilk, all wish their names were on this project. Content may be king, but great ads that challenge and disrupt our tired toiling hold the sentiments worth sharing. It would’ve been a sucker punch to the solar plexus…if it connected in the first place.

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(Shout out to Polygon for being the only site to cover this campaign within the first Google results page for “UN Minesweeper”)


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