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  • Writer's pictureShabbir Akhtar

Believe in Me

The concept of dialogic communication has been fascinating me recently and Barnardo's ‘Believe in Me’ campaign from 2016 really piqued my interest (Barnardo's - Believe in me, 2016).

Barnardo’s is one of the most popular and respected charities in the UK (Braegen, n.d.) and the largest children’s charity operating in every community of the country (FCB Inferno, n.d.). In 2016 Barnardo’s wanted to build awareness about the work it does and reach a more diverse and modern-day audience (FCB Inferno, n.d.). Barnardo’s strategy for the next ten years was evolving as it saw a steep increase in the demand for its services at an alarming rate, with a 30% increase in demand for Child Sexual Exploitation services in the past year alone (Stand Agency, n.d.). Thus, needing Barnardo’s more than ever to generate public support in the form of donations, and support from decision makers to push through policy.

Barnardo’s and the agencies (FCB Inferno, Braegen and Stand Agency) working with it to build the ‘Believe in Me’ campaign “ripped up the rulebook of children’s charity advertising, eschewing sad eyes and sorrow filled music for something far more powerful” (FCB Inferno, n.d.). To start with, as the charity used to support over 200,000 vulnerable children every year through its 900 services across the UK at that time, the campaign was not designed by the Barnardo’s and its agencies, but the campaign was co-constructed with 100s of children from all corners of the country (Braegen, n.d.).

A competition on the theme ‘My Proudest Achievement’ was organized to be demonstrate, through imagery, videos, paintings and poems, the positive impact that Barnardo’s in having on children who do not always have the care and support of parents or carers (Braegen, n.d.). The best creations were publicised online and offline to highlight the “importance of family to children’s development and the crucial support that Barnardo’s provides for vulnerable children with no or little family support” (Braegen, n.d.).

The second part of the campaign was a 60-second film created by FCB Inferno with the objective to show (build knowledge) “Barnardo’s children as the heroes of their own stories, defiantly and directly addressing our audience” and to persuade the audience that “no matter how tough the circumstances, children have an incredible ability to bounce back and transform their lives” (FCB Inferno, n.d.). The film featured five young children overcoming the trauma of their past to through powerful and mesmerizing performance that helped them move towards a brighter future that awaits them (FCB Inferno, n.d.).

This film was complimented with individual short films that dive deeper into each of the five children’s stories, showing the full transformation they went through and an online campaign that was tailored for each social channel allowing the audience to have deeper engagement (FCB Inferno, n.d.). A print campaign was also launched that highlighted the individual stories with the message, “Don’t pity me. Believe in me.” (FCB Inferno, n.d.).

The campaign won fifteen awards, including a Bronze at Cannes International Festival of Creativity (FCB Inferno, n.d.) and was termed a tearjerker for the audience (Yahoo News UK, 2016).


Barnardo's - Believe in me. (2016, September 22). Barnardo's | Believe in Me | 2016 [Video]. YouTube.

Braegen. (n.d.). Creating event impact – co-constructing a campaign with children. Retrieved June 28, 2021, from

FCB Inferno. (n.d.). Believe in Me Barnardo’s. Retrieved June 28, 2021, from

Stand Agency. (n.d.). Barnardo’s – Believe In Me. Retrieved June 28, 2021, from

Yahoo News UK. (2016). Barnardo’s apologises for making audiences cry in tearjerking advert.

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