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Uniting war-torn families through technology 

An integrated, PR-driven multimedia campaign to help generate donations for Ukrainian children

64m

 

64 million people reached globally

8,500

 

8,500+ children helped

55

 

55 volunteers, top-tier ambassadors and 41 business partners united in a pro bono community group

2

2 live press events in The Hague and Frankfurt

Millions of Ukrainian children have been displaced since the Russian invasion in 2022, with many separated from their families. Tech founder Andriy Shmyhelskyy, a Ukrainian expat and intimately engaged with this crisis, needed to do something to ease their pain. 

Shmyhelskyy had already been working on a multi-product platform before the war’s outbreak. His app, International Kids Stories, lets parents and other family members record their voices while they read a children's book. He was ready to stake his claim in the audio book market, projected to be worth $35.04 billion by 2030. But as the war resulted in thousands of refugees, Shmyhelskyy asked himself: how can I use this technology to drive positive impact for my home country’s children? 

Better Time Stories was born. The project fundraises bilingual picture books for refugee Ukrainian children written by Ukrainian authors to bring a piece of home. But Better Time Stories goes beyond just books: the app connects children with their separated family members who can read these stories to them so they feel closer to each other – after all, a bedtime story is best when told in a father’s, mother’s, a grandparent’s voice.

Better Time Stories is technology-driven, so it was crucial for us to find an agency that could bridge the gap between tech and emotion. Clarity not only understood this very well, but also clicked with our team and numerous project partners, showing genuine motivation to contribute to our common goal. In addition, Clarity flawlessly navigated our multiple key European markets. This made them a perfect match for us.

Adriy ShmyhelskyyDirector of Better Time Stories

The Challenge

Shmyhelskyy had to get the word out. He reached out to Clarity Amsterdam, and we were more than ready to assist. Joining forces with the creative agency Boomerang, we were tasked with creating a consortium of collaborators who could amplify the Better Time Stories… well, story, and kickstart donations to fund this charity campaign. Easier said than done because in times of war, the vast amount of noise generated in the media can be quite impenetrable.

Our Strategy & Solution  

We already had the power of storytelling at our back. But we needed voices to amplify our message. That’s why we worked with some of Europe’s greatest leading women, Olena Zelenska, Elke Büdenbender, Doris Schmidauer and Princess Laurentien van Oranje, as well as various famous influencers with a personal connection to the cause to act as ambassadors.

To capture media attention, we ran two press events and followed up with an extensive media relations campaign. And to drive momentum, we supported all this with media campaigns leveraging a captivating video filmed in Kiev. Real-time reporting dashboards made sure all stakeholders were aware of the impact every step of the way.


Campaign milestones were used as additional news hooks, including the first 10,000 books requested and the amount of children supported by the one year ‘anniversary’ of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Impact

The campaign generated considerable coverage in the Netherlands, Germany and beyond, with pieces in outlets like BBC and Reuters (UK), Die Zeit and Deutsche Welle (Germany), TV Globo (Brazil), Channel 1+1 (Ukraine), ANP (Netherlands) and CBC (Canada). 

The combination of earned coverage, paid campaigns and social reach through the campaign ambassadors meant Better Time Stories reached over 64 million people globally. Our two campaign launch events in The Hague and Frankfurt were attended by over 50 journalists.

This initial push resulted in over 25,000 books shipped to more than 8,500 Ukrainian kids in Germany and the Netherlands – surpassing our stretch goals! Furthermore, we formed a bona fide pro bono community of 55 volunteers, prominent European ambassadors and influencers and over 40 business partners that continues to drive impact.

But...

At the time of writing, this conflict seems far from over. Ukrainian children are still scattered across the continent, separated from country and kin. So please check out the Better Time Stories website and consider donating the gift of reading and family bonding to a Ukrainian child, school or library in need.