Poignant Ad Inspires Legal Change, Wins Grand Prix


It’s not often that advertising helps to bring awareness to an age-old, intransigent cultural problem in a simple, tenderhearted way that results in political change.

But a breakthrough campaign created by Impact BBDO Dubai for UN Women, “Child Wedding Cards,” did just that. It won both the Lions Health Grand Prix for Good and a Gold Lion in the Health and Wellness category this week at Cannes.

Featuring hand-drawn wedding invitations made by girls ages 5-15, including one from an actual child bride, the direct mail campaign helped sway Pakistani lawmakers to raise the minimum age of marriage in Pakistan to 18.

UN and other Pakistani activists have been working for decades to end the phenomenon of child brides (and some grooms,) some being married off as young as the age of 5, usually in the most economically disadvantaged, rural parts of the country.



Among many things, girls who are forced to marry so young lose their opportunities for schooling, and face an increased risk of early pregnancy, in turn increasing the risk of child and maternal health complications and mortality. They are sometimes isolated from family and friends, and many are excluded from participating in their communities, which takes a toll on their mental health and well-being.

To address this problem, Impact BBDO, working with UN Women, reached out to young girls aged 5-15, from different parts of the country, to draw and color wedding invitations to a fictional child’s nuptials.  Six designs were selected to reflect different parts of the country.

The touching entry video shows various little hands at work, squeezing paint and filling the cards with flowers and little human figures.

The innocence and charm of the drawings is magnetic, in cruel contrast to the brutality of the issue they are confronting.

 It’s the most universal way to dramatize a poignant, human need for justice.

The direct-mail part of the campaign was also based on the cultural insight that formal wedding cards are still being delivered by hand today in Pakistan.

The entry video tells us that “21% of Pakistani brides are girls under the age of 18….and almost five million are under the age of 15.”

It adds: “To generate support for passing a law to protect children from this harmful practice, UN Women collaborated with leaders and decision-makers to get people to imagine what it would be like if a child were to design a card to invite them to her wedding…”  It’s backed my music that sounds almost like a prayer.

The wedding invites are “heart-touching reminders that childhood needs to be protected and cherished,” the ad tells us.

The cards were mailed to each member of the National Assembly of Pakistan.

Members of Parliament got the message and held the wedding cards up in meetings with other legislators, asking them to join in the fight against child marriage.

In a landmark judgment on March 7, 2023, the Federal Islamic Court ruled that a minimum marriage age of 18 is not against the laws of Islam, (which had been a major impediment to change) paving the way for the state to raise the minimum age.

"We’ve proven that progress to end child marriage is possible. It requires unwavering support for vulnerable girls and families,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell in a release. “We must focus on keeping girls in school and making sure they have economic opportunities."

Equally moving, the title of the video, “Child Wedding Cards” was scrawled by hand by a kid under 10.

The video ends with “Join us to #StopChild Marriage.”

So the Grand Prix for Good not only went to a campaign that did well, but will continue to do well in aiding the lives of girls in Pakistan for the coming generations.

That’s better than good.

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