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This Stunning Ad Shows Why We Need War Reporters Now More Than Ever


If politicians alone controlled the flow of information to the public, war would be tantamount to entertainment, argues a gripping new PSA.

A new 80-second video from Paris agency BETC for nonprofit Reporters Without Borders deftly contrasts state propaganda with on-the-ground war-zone imagery to make the case for one of the organization's key missions: Assisting and protecting the journalists who report on conflicts around the world. 

It opens with a cheerful declaration from one TV commentator. "And now it's time, folks, to have a parade!" he cries, punctuating his enthusiasm with a punch in the air—a surreal frame-up for the jarring montage that follows.

Obscene spectacles of military power—marching battalions, convoys of truck-mounted missiles, rows of jet fighters—roll across the screen, celebrating nations of various stripes while leaders beam from their vantage points.

World history buffs could easily turn this into a game of Name That Despot: Faces include North Korea's Kim Jong Il, Russia's Vladimir Putin, Saudi Arabia's King Salman and, for Americans in the audience, President George W. Bush in the context of his infamous "Mission Accomplished" banner from 2003, early in the Iraq War.

Other representations include troops from Great Britain, France, China and more. 

These grandiose displays of force suddenly give way to shots capturing actual atrocities—mass graves, wounded children, heartbreaking scars and soldiers bogged down in muck and misery. "Without independent reporters, war would just be a nice show," reads copy across the screen. "Support those that risk their lives to bring us the truth."

The ad concludes with a shot of photographers plastering themselves onto the ground in the middle of a war zone.

The call for donations makes a simple and effective argument for how brutality gets sanitized and glorified by governments, often spearheaded by officials far removed from the danger and damage they facilitate. It's equally important to point out that the number of war correspondents is dwindling as the job gets even more dangerous and traumatic.

But the emotional power of the spot comes from a place so obvious it almost goes without saying: The failure to bring violence to light makes it more likely to persist, unchecked, to the detriment of humanity. 

It's impossible to imagine a free society, and a free world, without a free press. And as long as one exists, people can at least choose to ignore genocide ... rather than just pleading ignorance.

Client: Reporters Sans Frontières
Client Management: Christophe Deloire, Perrine Daubas, Caroline Pastorelli, Thibaut Bruttin
Agency: BETC
Agency Management: Catherine Emprin, Guillaume Espinet, Jeremy Taffin
Creative Directors: Stéphane Xiberras, Jean-Michel Alirol, Dominique Marchand
Art Director: Jean-Michel Alirol
Assistant Art Director: Pierre Orizet
Copywriter: Dominique Marchand
Traffic: Alexandra Chini
TV Producer: David Brakha
Production Company: Stink
Producer: Gregory Panteix
Director: Owen Trevor
Sound: Brendan Woithe @ Klang
Flame Artist: FASA @ ETC
Monteur: Ryan Boucher @MSE

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