2011 4A's Jay Chiat Awards for Strategic Excellence
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2011 Jay Chiat Awards Winners

2011 Grand Prix Winner
For Good Strategy—Gold

Lowe and Partners
Colombian Ministry of Defense Program of Humanitarian Attention to the Demobilised (PAHD) | "FARC: Operation Christmas"

FARC: Operation ChristmasThis entry is about Colombia's 60-year struggle against the world's oldest guerrilla group, FARC, which commits a terrorist act once every 3 days.

We were asked to create an idea to demobilise them. Inviting them to rediscover their lives and their freedom.

Going back to basics and conducting interviews with 200 ex-guerrillas revealed a powerful insight—that Christmas time is the most sensitive period for guerrillas. The interviews also reinforced how difficult it would be to communicate with a target audience who in the main are beyond the reach of conventional media.

Consequently we created something extraordinary: OPERATION CHRISTMAS. Two professional anti-guerrilla contingents, 2,000 LED lights, and 2 Black Hawk helicopters travelled into the jungle to find and cover giant trees with Christmas lights. Placed alongside the guerrillas strategic walking paths the lights would come on when they approached, with banners exhorting them to lay down their arms becoming visible too.

The powerful, timely and well-located messaging encouraged 331 FARC guerrillas to demobilise and re-enter society—a 30% uplift on the previous year.

In challenging circumstances, strategic planning drew together powerful insights to create a core, successful, thought – taking the spirit of Christmas to guerrilla strongholds. 

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