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December 14th 2015

MamaYe! Evidence, Identity, Design, Engagement

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The MamaYe! Evidence, Identity, Design, Engagement book was designed to showcase the variety of creative assets produced for the MamaYe! project. It pulls together posters, scorecards, infographics, websites and factsheets from the five countries that MamaYe! works in to improve maternal and newborn survival. This book shows examples of how data can be packaged in visually appealing formats to engage an audience.




February 27th 2014

Protecting the Girl Child: Equality Now Report

This year, 14 million girls – some as young as eight years old – will be married against their will.

Ai were approached by Equality Now to collaborate on their latest report – “Protecting the Girl Child – Using the Law to End Child Marriage”. Continue Reading



October 31st 2013

Women and Children’s Health at the UN General Assembly

Ai were approached as part of the team behind the MamaYe campaign to collaborate on the drafting and design of advocacy materials for the Partnership for Maternal Newborn Health (PMNCH).

The Partnership (PMNCH) is an alliance made up of more than 500 academic institutions, donors, NGOs, private sector companies and others. Their goal is a world in which all women, newborns, children and adolescents not only are healthy, but thrive.

The Brief 

For two years PMNCH have coordinated a major study that looks at data and trends across 136 low and middle income countries from the past 50 years to answer the question:

“What can we learn from countries to speed our progress towards women’s and children’s health?”

Understanding what political, financial and social interventions work to improve the health of women and children is crucial as we approach 2015 – the target year for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In order to share some of the key lessons learned from this study PMNCH commissioned an advocacy booklet that shared lessons from 10 countries that are on-track to meeting MDG targets for maternal and child health.


A huge amount of information from 10 leading low and middle income countries was distilled into 4 core lessons for women and children’s health.

We then illustrated these lessons with data, success stories and visuals and created the ‘success factors’ booklet.

As well as a booklet, banners showing highlights were developed. All materials were launched at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 23rd September 2013.

They followed by 10 in depth reports on how countries have made progress to improve the health of their women and children.

We hope these lessons serve as an impetus for change in other settings!



August 28th 2013


Ai has played a leading role in developing the public-facing side of a programme to save the lives of African mothers and babies – MamaYe!

The project aims to improve maternal and newborn survival in six countries in Africa (Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Tanzania.)

MamaYe is led in-country by teams of African experts, and supported by an international consortium of experts based at UCL, University of Southampton, University of Aberdeen, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The programme is funded by UKAID, and led by Louise Hulton of Options – the sexual and reproductive health consultancy.

Ai has been responsible for the development of an advocacy, communications and digital strategy, identity, naming, design and build of web platforms. Ai also continues to work on the all elements of MamaYe!

On 18th February, 2013 MamaYe launched across five countries with events that called on the public to ‘give blood to save a mama’ or ‘make our clinics safe’ in 5 countries. Along with the physical launch MamaYe also launched six websites, one for each of the countries, and one a ‘parent site’.

The websites highlight news, evidence, resources, stories and events organized by African-led teams in the six countries.


The Context

As our contribution to this project, we began by scoping and assessing public opinion in the six countries. Because we did not have funds for full opinion surveys, we had to rely on our own intelligence-gathering on visits to all the countries. We talked to a wide range of African communications professionals, experts in the field, activists, representatives of faith, women’s and professional organisations etc.- and observed what was happening in public spaces, to discover whether maternal and newborn survival featured there.

We learnt first, that despite its high level of priority at international policy-making level, and despite the activities of dedicated MNH experts and NGOs, maternal and newborn survival was not an audible part of the public conversation in all of the six African countries.

Second, we became aware of a widespread assumption across the six countries: that death in childbirth was ‘natural’ to quote an educated and sophisticated woman we met in Tanzania, or that alternatively it was “God’s will”. This widespread resignation and fatalism in relation to childbirth we concluded, is one of the biggest challenges that policy-makers face in reducing maternal and newborn mortality in Africa. Resignation lowers expectations, and inhibits citizens from expecting and demanding improvements in the care of mothers and newborns.

Ai subsequently developed an advocacy strategy based on the evidence assembled by consortium partners, and which aims to use effective communication to demonstrate that with quality care, especially emergency obstetric care, many more women and newborns can survive childbirth.

The MamaYe strategy aims to actively engage the African public in the issue of maternal survival, and to provide examples of actions that could save lives.

Reframing the Issue

We know from George Lakoff, Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley that:

“Frames are the mental structures that shape the way we view the world…they shape the goals we seek, the plans we make, the way we act, and what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions. …To change our frames is to change all of this. Reframing is social change.” (Our emphasis)

From: ‘Don’t think of an Elephant’ by George Lakoff. Published in 2004 by Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, Vermont)

In developing strategy and associated communications for MamaYe, Ai worked hard at re-framing the issue: away from fatalism, despair and mortality and towards solutions, success and higher expectations of survival.

In developing both the advocacy and digital strategy Ai worked closely with the African experts in MamaYe teams in each country to tailor messages and “asks” of the campaign to suit each country’s context.

Central to the communications strategy is the task of identifying those who use evidence-based solutions to ensure the survival of women and their newborns – in order to showcase and celebrate both the solutions and the achievements of those who contribute to survival. We are particularly concerned to demonstrate and communicate to the African public that much can be done by any committed person to save lives, by: e.g. encouraging women to visit ante-natal clinics, taxi-ing a woman to hospital in an emergency; or giving blood.

Learn more about the story behind the ‘give blood to save a mama’ MamaYe campaign action >

The re-framing seeks to raise expectations of survival, and to arm ordinary citizens with evidence, information, actions and above all, the confidence that will enable them to expect and demand higher standards of care for mothers and newborns.


The MamaYe Identity

Ai started by working with Nairobi based design team ARK and Mark Kaigwa to come up with the MamaYe name and initial logo.

We knew that we needed an identity that resonated with the African public, that reflected the concept that motherhood was at the heart of the community, and that invited a new positive frame on the issue of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.

The ARK team tested a wide range of invented names in all 5 of the countries that MamaYe would have a public face to gauge responses of the public (from the marketplace in Abuja to the Northern rural districts of Sierra Leone). MamaYe emerged as the winner – and the name that didn’t have negative associations in any of the (many) local languages.

The logo was designed to reflect the importance of mama, baby (orange) and community (teal) in pulling together for solutions and survival. It was deliberately clear, clean and simple – because we knew it would need to be reproduced on web, digital, mobile assets – but also handpainted onto buildings, copied by illustrators who don’t have access to software but work with paper and pen.

Ai’s lead designer Jordan took the MamaYe identity and ran with it. In collaboration with the Ai team and the MamaYe in-country experts Jordan has handled all web design and created a body of creative assets.

At the core of the design approach was the need to always stay true to our framing of the issue. To use the right combination of photography, graphics, colour and typography to reflect an aspirational, innovative and postive future for mamas and babies.

Jordan referenced a lot of pop-culture from Nigeria, Malawi, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. By taking the aesthetic values of pop music and film in our five countries MamaYe raises the aesthetic status of MNCH.

But it was also always key to retain the integrity of the identity- keep it human centred, warm and engaging. And be as clear and direct as possible whilst communicating sound evidence.

The MamaYe creative assets are a work in progress – and in collaboration with country teams Ai continues to work on them.


The Digital Strategy

Ai’s team, led by Ann Pettifor, Georgia Lee, Mark Kaigwa and Jordan Chatwin, worked closely with the six African country teams, and the team at Options and with other distinguished members of the consortium, to produce and design six websites. These will be central to a digital communications strategy that aims to amplify and enhance the advocacy strategy.

MamaYe sites are fully responsive to cater to the huge (and growing) African audience who are smart phone users. MamaYe aims to ride the digital revolution sweeping across Africa; to harness Africa’s telecommunications boom to reach a wide audience, especially Africa’s youth.

Ai is currently collaborating with the Sierra Leone team to develop a mobile ‘communications intervention’ to engage students and Okada (motorbike taxi) drivers via SMS.

For more information about mobile in Africa watch this video >



August 27th 2013


Over the last 18 months Ai has been working with the African Union’s (AU) Campaign for the Reduction of Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality (CARMMA). We are part of the regional remit of the UKAID funded Evidence 4 Action programme, led by Options UK. Ai was asked to advise CARMMA on their strategy to improve maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) across the continent. As well as advising on strategy Ai works in close collaboration with the CARMMA team to improve the digital presence, public face, messaging, framing and resources of CARMMA.

The team at the AU is led by Dr Ademola Olajide, Head of the Health, Nutrition, and Population Division, and supported by Kenneth Oliko, Ai‘s African Union consultant for work on CARMMA.

In developing a strategy for the African Union Commission we recognised that for diplomatic and political reasons the AU cannot be a campaigning organisation; however it has a great convening power. We therefore strategised that the best way for it to promote the issue of MNCH survival through CARMMA was by using the AU’s convening and cross-continent power to reach a wide audience. The CARMMA scorecards (showing comparative data on MNCH indicators across the continent) is one example of its institutional capacity to reflect the progress of MNCH across AU Member States.

Our first collaborative work with the AU was the refresh of the CARMMA identity and creation of a bank of creative assets and photography for the campaign relaunch in October 2012.

With Kenyan-based design firm Asilia we developed an extensive visual identity around the prevailing logo and applied it across print and digital assets. This included designing flyers, reports, a desktop website, a mobile website, a set of bespoke iconography and scorecard infographics that show comparative data on MNCH indicators across 52 African countries.

The CARMMA site: was launched in two languages in October 2012 and was the first standalone site for the AU’s campaign. We also worked to apply the refreshed identity across social media channels.


Homepage-screengrab-500px Testimonials-Screengrab-500px

The Mama Afrika Award

After the successful launch and rollout of the refreshed CARMMA identity and digital presence we strategised with the AU and developed the idea that one way the AU could ‘campaign’ on MNCH was to establish an award. Such an award for maternal, newborn and child health is another example of the AU’s unique ability to mount a continent-wide competition that will highlight the achievements of individuals and organisations in reducing MNCH mortality.

Our team thought deeply about modelling this award on the Nobel Peace Prize process. In response to appeals that the award should have an African identity we undertook research into figures and institutions that would have a continent-wide appeal.

The concept of the laureate was developed, and then submitted to a process of consultation at an AU conference that brought together MNCH experts from across Africa. After discussion and iteration the group agreed the concept note for the award with the feedback that the name ‘Laureate’ was not sufficiently African-owned.

We were asked to propose a name for the award. We looked at the possibility of naming the award after a prominent, current African politician or statesperson, MNH activists and professionals, or after iconic African women.

We finally identified Miriam Makeba, the musician, who was a citizen of 10 African countries and whose only daughter, Bongi Makeba, died of causes related to pregnancy. Furthermore, Miriam Makeba was the only performer to be invited by the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie to perform in Addis Ababa at the inauguration of the Organisation of African Unity in 1962. Finally, Ms Makeba is known across Africa as ‘Mama Afrika’.

The Mama Afrika Award was our proposed name, subsequently agreed by the African Union Commission (AUC).


The Mama Afrika Award
Identity Design

When we began the design of the Mama Afrika Award identity our brief was firstly that the identity and aesthetic must be African – not owned by one country, but truly a continent-wide brand.

Within that brief the three themes that the Mama Afrika identity had to express:

  • Maternal and newborn survival.
  • Strength, resilience, pride and power
  • Achievement, celebration, positivity.

We started looking at traditional symbols of maternity from across the continent, motherhood and fertility, including, for example, Asante dolls from Ghana.

For strength we focussed on female leaders who have played an important part in Africa’s history and their identity. Specifically we considered Albertina Sisulu, Wangari Maathai and Miriam Makeba.

For celebration we looked at contemporary African designers, graphic artists and modern interpretations of traditional textiles.

Finally, drawing on all these sources, we designed the Mama Afrika Award identity.

Using the sillouhette of the mother and baby communicates all aspects of maternal and newborn survival. We used the 54 stars of the AU to show the Mama Afrika Award was connected to the AU. It was used in starburst effect to emphasise the celebratory element of the Award.

Finally, and crucially, the mother and baby were placed within an outline of the African continent. Together, the whole logo serves as a literal translation of Mama Afrika.

The Mama Afrika Award was launched at the African Union’s first International Conference on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, in Africa held in Johannesburg, South Africa from the 1st to 3rd August, 2013.

Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AU, unveiled the Mama Afrika Award to the uplifting soundtrack of Miriam Makeba’s music:

“Individuals, organisations, communities, companies and governments who continue to make a remarkable effort to ensure that Africa’s mothers, newborns and children survive, and not only survive but thrive and realize their potential”

Dr. Zuma made a dramatic gesture and symbolically unveiled the Mama Afrika Award.

The Chairperson was joined by Miriam Makeba’s grandson Nelson Lumumba Lee who spoke eloquently about his grandmother’s commitment to the wellbeing of Africa’s mothers and children, he described the Makeba family and foundation as “honoured and humbled” by the Mama Afrika Award.

Nominations are open on the CARMMA site and work on the Mama Afrika Award continues.

Miriam Makeba Miriam Makeba, musician, is known across the continent as Mama Afrika. Ms. Makeba was the only artist to be invited by the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie to perform in Addis Ababa at the inauguration of the Organisation of African Unity in 1962.



July 29th 2011

Cutting the Diamond

Cutting the Diamond explores the fundamentals of successful public advocacy. It covers essential themes such as leadership, communication, identity, the role of social and mobile technologies, working with celebrities and monitoring and evaluation.

This introduction will help your organisation build an advocacy strategy that harnesses public opinion, holds decision-makers to account, and pressures politicians to listen, follow through and deliver.

We hope it spurs you on!

Author: Ann Pettifor

No. of pages: 60

Publication date: July 2011

Available languages: English

To download Cutting the Diamond click here

Read the online version:



November 27th 2010

Helping create the City of 2030: UCLG Summit in Mexico City

Old-Mexico-City-500pxDevelopment in Mexico City. Photograph: David Gordillo

From 16th to 21st November 2010, Mexico City hosted a huge gathering of city mayors and leaders from across the globe, for the World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders. Organised by United Cities and Local Governments, the Summit discussed the big crises and challenges facing cities and communities, looked ahead to the City of 2030, and debated ideas for a greater input by local governments into global governance – on issues as diverse as climate change, Millennium Development Goals, and “city diplomacy”.  Jeremy Smith was there to assist UCLG – which he had helped set up 7 years ago – in developing the themes and concepts for the Summit programme, and to draft the final outcome documents.

The work began in early 2010, in meetings with the Secretary General and team of UCLG at their offices in Barcelona.  Jeremy then drew up a concept note for the Summit, itemizing and explaining the themes.  These were approved in Spring 2010 by UCLG’s Executive Bureau in Chicago. He also helped with the invitations and Summit programme finalisation, and drew up the first drafts of the two Outcome Documents – a Manifesto for the City of 2030, and the Summit Conclusions.

During the Summit days in Mexico City, Jeremy helped the UCLG team with the final session organization – not so simple when dealing with the Mayors and Heads of Cabinet of some of the world’s largest cities like Guangzhou, Seoul, Johannesburg and Mexico City itself!

The Summit delegates took their chance to propose amendments to the outcome documents with enthusiasm – UCLG works in English, French and Spanish, so with around 200 amendments coming in at the last moment, it was an exciting evening’s teamwork putting it all together into coherent language while the delegates enjoyed the city centre fireworks to mark the 100th anniversary of Mexico’s 1910 revolution!

Jeremy was the principal drafter (including of course the agreed amendments) of  The City of 2030 – a short “manifesto” describing the kind of urban place we would all like to create – and which mayors and local councillors can use their powers to work towards.  It was adopted almost unanimously by the Summit delegates. Ai’s Creative team designed the Manifesto in the three language versions.

We are pleased to note that the Manifesto has a footnote mention in the 2013 UN Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (co-chaired by the President of Indonesia and Liberia and the Prime minister of the UK)

“A new global partnership to eradicate poverty and transform economies through sustainable development”.

The Report (downloadable here):

“recommends that targets in the post-2015 agenda should be set for 2030”, and the footnote states (p.19):

“Local and regional authorities are already working with a horizon of 2030 (Manifesto for the City of 2030) balancing a long-term vision with the fast changing nature of the world today.”

The Manifesto and the summit Conclusions are available from the UCLG website:

City of 2030 – English

City of 2030 – French

City of 2030 – Spanish

Caption goes hereMayor Topbaş Istanbul, Mayor Delanoë Paris and Mayor Ebrard Casaubón Mexico City at the UCLG Congress
UCLG Mexico City





June 26th 2009

Operation Noah

Operation Noah’s vision is informed by the science of climate change, motivated by faith to care for creation and driven by the hope that our society can be transformed and enriched through radical change in lifestyles and patterns of consumption.

Ai’s role: Strategic consulting, public advocacy, membership mobilisation, fund-raising, online, print and broadcast  communications


  • The re-branding of Operation Noah
  • Research for and development of,  a bolder vision and goal
  • The mobilisation of many leading figures within Britain’s faith communities behind the campaign; and more than 1,000 people to an ON event at Southwark Cathedral in advance of the Copenhagen Summit in 2009.
  • Oversight of the day-to-day management of the campaign
  • The design and build of a Drupal website


“Operation Noah brings together a rainbow coalition drawn from across the faith spectrum.They combine a rigorous respect for the scientific facts of the case together with campaigning passion. If we want to be part of the solution of the problem of Climate Change, Operation Noah is a good ship to enlist on.”

The Brief:

Advocacy International was approached by the board of a small UK church-based climate change campaign, to help lift its profile first amongst Christian communities within Britain, but also more widely.  We undertook research into the science of climate change, produced reports and developed a campaign strategy, including the ‘Ark Campaign’ of 2009 which called on supporters to “Cap the Power, Cut the Carbon”,  Our work with Operation Noah is ongoing and can be viewed here:





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