At this point in the evolution of Facebook advertising, many brands may think they are doing a good job. But the opportunities on offer don’t start and end with the tools brands think are available – the possibilities may be greater than that.

Case in point is Harsh Kapadia. The group director of WPP creative agency VML didn’t want to settle for the same old line in sponsored posts, something everyone is familiar with. So, when a big client, the United Nations, needed a social campaign for a big event, this summer’s World Humanitarian Day, Kapadia’s team thought outside the box.

VML combined several Facebook products – Facebook Live and Camera Effects – to stage a live broadcast, hearing stories from conflict-zone aid workers, with their harrowing words overlaid with a live teleprompter.


As attacks continue on aid workers, United Nations Humanitarian Chief Mark Lowcock lends his voice to someone trapped in war and tells the world that civilians and aid workers are #NotATarget. Help protect civilians in conflict. Sign the petition at

Posted by United Nations OCHA on Thursday, September 21, 2017

Though it was live and a follow-on from the UN’s initial #NotATarget, the campaign used the tools to mirror the look and feel of the video which seeded the campaign.

“It was was actually bringing to life stories of civilians in conflict,” Kapadia says in this video interview with Beet.TV. “The important part here was how we used effects and Live. So you actually captured people’s real reactions as they read the story.

Facebook’s Camera Effects platform incorporates Frame Studio and AR Studio, tools that allow designers to overlay graphics as frames over what the Facebook camera sees. It is a toolset also used by other brands like Nike and Manchester United.

Combined with Facebook Live, though, it allowed World Humanitarian Day to broadcast live messaging using the same aesthetic as the recorded campaign.

The Facebook campaign has been used as a case study by many ad-industry trade publications.

“We also used reactions in a really interesting way. We ended up with a lot of sad and angry reactions to those videos. And they weren’t sad and angry reactions to the person who was reading it, they were reactions to the stories themselves.

For Kapadia, it’s all about recognising that the tools on offer today both support new creative possibilities and, indeed, demand a new way of thinking.

“So often we sometimes get bogged down .. How we can push those boundaries?,” he adds. “How can we actually not treat them just as templated products? How can real ideas really come to life through these things?”

This Beet.TV series, presented by Facebook and WPP, is titled Creativity in a Mobile First World. Please find more videos from the series here.