ROME - The images flooding New York’s Times Square from giant billboards were as dazzling as the October 16 day. Movie stars, models and ordinary people beamed in from Berlin, Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo. All wearing T-shirts branded with celebrity designer Michael Kors’ tagline: Watch Hunger Stop.
“Today is the day,” Kors told CNN on World Food Day, as he described his global #watchhungerstop campaign on behalf of WFP’s school feeding programme. “…this is an unbelievable transformation that everyone can be involved in – in changing someone’s life.”
Crowds packing Kors’ Manhattan store on the day got their photos snapped wearing free #watchhungerstop T-shirts. Others gathered in nearby Times Square as the images – sprinkled with those of celebrities like Heidi Klum – flashed from billboards lit up in WFP blue.
Google ramped up Kors’ drive to help reach millions more in cyberspace, showcasing #watchhungerstop exclusively on its One Today app for the day – and contributing $1 per dollar donated, with a $25,000 cap. On YouTube, fashion vlogger Carah Amelie urged fans to “make a little bit of change together” to support WFP school meals.
Cooking for hunger
A continent away, the Dutch snapped up copies of the latest edition of “Master Chefs for Home Chefs,” launched by Netherlands-based PostNL and showcasing recipes from celebrity chefs. Among them: Ramon Beuk, who plugged the book - whose proceeds go to WFP’s school feeding in Malawi - on popular Dutch TV morning show Coffee Time.
“I am happy with how the project is being done here,” said PostNL executive Marielle van Spronsen, who watched kids gobbling up bowls of WFP-provided porridge at village schools during an October visit to the southern African nation.
In China, Tencent Foundation and Shenzhen Zhi Liang Media launched a nationwide “zero hunger drive” in collaboration with youth volunteers, office workers, charities and netizens. Bloggers shared their feelings about hunger – which stalks 842 million people worldwide - through videos and social media sites.
Responding to Syria
Other private partners campaigned on behalf of WFP’s Syria response. In a first, Facebook featured a series of WFP Instagram videos capturing the daily life of Syrians and WFP staff in Jordan’s sprawling Zaatari refugee camp and MasterCard employees raised funds for our Syria operation.
In New York, LG Electronics aired footage of the Syria crisis in an ongoing campaign to raise donations via mobile phones for our operations. Syria also headlined a fundraising appeal in Dubai by daily deals website Cobone. “The feedback was excellent,” said Vikram Ahuja, Cobone’s Director of Product and Partnerships.
For its part, Unilever aimed to raise the equivalent of one million WFP school meals through a Facebook matching funds campaign and employee drives at canteens serving special international cuisine. “World Food Day was a great opportunity to engage consumers to continue to help raise awareness about hunger,” said Antoine de Saint-Affrique, President of Food at Unilever.
For Yum! Brands, World Food Day folded into the company’s latest World Hunger Relief campaign. The largest hunger relief effort in the private sector, it aims to raise more than US$36 million for WFP and other hunger relief organizations this year.
*Above: PostNL’s Nienke Nijhuis volunteers for WFP’s school feeding programme in Malawi. Copyright: Marielle Von Spronsen/ PostNL