UN Refugees


The UN Refugee Agency raises awareness of the refugee impact during COVID-19

See how you can achieve similar success

See how you can achieve similar success

UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights, and building a better future. Their global Twitter account (@Refugees) provides timely, relevant news updates, and advocacy messages to amplify the voices of refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people.

Campaign objective

UNHCR worked with creative agency Blue State (@bluestate) to run a global COVID-19 campaign aimed at combating misinformation around refugees and COVID-19. They were also looking to raise awareness about how UNHCR helps protect refugees and internally displaced people from the pandemic. 

They chose Twitter to achieve these goals because of their active and global presence on the platform and already-high engagement rates with their audience. They aim to reach both refugees themselves looking for support and available services, and members of the public who empathize with vulnerable refugees, are concerned about global issues, and want to make a positive change in the world.

UNHCR ran concurrent video views and website clicks campaigns (now called website traffic) to achieve their goals. For the video views campaign, they amplified organic videos produced by their global social media team - including a video with Ben Stiller, a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, on the power of soap. For the website clicks objective (now called website traffic), they added links in their Tweets to their dedicated landing page for the Coronavirus outbreak.


For this campaign, UNHCR chose keywords, hashtags, interests, and handles relevant to the audiences they wanted to reach. They targeted people aged 25+ interested in humanitarian causes, nonprofit organizations, fundraising, and volunteering from a select list of countries around the world. They also targeted similar followers to those who follow NGO accounts on Twitter.


25 M

impressions across 28 countries globally

8.6 M

video views


view rate


link clicks

Keys to success

Partner with influencers

UNHCR partnered with multiple, well-known celebrities to echo the message and build powerful video assets. By tapping into the power of these influencers, it helped expand their reach and impact by connecting with fans of the celebrities, on top of the audiences they were already reaching.

Get tips on how to find micro-influencers in your network.

Connect with current events

Twitter is the place where people come to talk about what’s happening in the world and what they’re passionate about, but it’s important as a brand to make sure to join those conversations in a meaningful way.

UNHCR’s campaign was timed crucially to the height of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak. They were able to join in on this difficult conversation with sensitivity as it was unfolding, and added value with a fresh perspective on how the pandemic affects the refugee community. These messages resonate strongly with their target audience, which drove the success of their campaign.

Diversify your creatives

It’s always a good practice to have multiple creatives to accompany your Tweets, of different types (GIFs, videos, and images) and of different content, to switch in and out when you need.

UNHCR followed this principle in this campaign, where they had a wide variety of creatives on hand that they were able to pause or activate based on performance. This allowed them to optimize the performance of their ads by ensuring the best-performing Tweets were always active. They also repurpose some existing, organic videos they already had for their campaign to further capitalize on its success and cut down on the creation costs.

Although fundraising wasn’t our main objective, we got a sustainable number of donations via the creatives that included a website link.

Natalia Lazareva, Paid Media, Digital Marketing Team at UNHCR HQ
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