Save the Children swaps remote filming for virtual production in latest DRTV campaign

Raw London has teamed up with Save the Children International to pioneer an ethical and cutting-edge virtual production approach to DRTV.

The innovative DRTV fundraising campaign, This Is An Ad About Hunger, leverages state-of-the-art technology as a new form of storytelling in the charity sector. The approach aims to address environmental, ethical and logistical challenges associated with traditional DRTV production.

As a result, the campaign subverts norms and challenges existing perceptions around hunger to achieve cut-through with international audiences.

Raw London use virtual production in a greener and more ethical approach to storytelling.

Virtual production as a powerful storytelling tool

Finding ways to tell stories that stand out and challenge stereotypes in the fundraising space is key. But, just as important is how we tell that story. At a critical point of a global hunger crisis, driven by factors such as climate change, the concept had to not only cut-through to audiences, but practice what it preached too.

So, with the ethical, environmental and logistical challenges involved in filming children in remote locations or conflict zones, virtual production offered a new way to tell this story.

“We wanted to subvert norms and challenge existing perceptions around hunger to achieve cut-through with this concept. Telling a story about a subject we have covered time and time again in a new way shows our audience that the old story has changed. Staying UK-based meant a bigger challenge with casting, but with a clear brief and vision, it ensured the message the campaign delivered was authentic and true to our brand.”

Rossella Pedaci, Global DRTV Specialist, Save the Children International

Watch the behind-the-scenes film to hear more from Rossella Pedaci, Global DRTV Specialist at Save the Children International, about the ethical principles behind the creative.

The impact of carbon emissions in the creative industry

In this instance, we felt that virtual production offered an alternative method of storytelling, as well as an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions – including removing the expectation for air travel. In fact, air travel is calculated to be the largest factor of driving up carbon emissions totals of filming. For example, for 10 people to travel from London Heathrow to Cape Town in Economy would consume 31.76 tonnes co2e, the equivalent of using over 31 ​​x 500 m3 hot air balloons.

Telling an authentic global hunger story

From one location in Garden Studios London, the film travels across three continents, representing three children facing the global hunger crisis.

Using state-of-the-art technology and purpose-built production sets, we conceptually created the scenes in the foreground, and used a mix of both real archive and software-generated footage for the backgrounds. We then combined the latest photorealistic Unreal Engine software with source photography to create authentic environments from the regions represented in the film.

Unlike traditional DRTV, child actors also address the viewer directly, acknowledging that “this is an advert about hunger”. As a result, audiences see the global hunger crisis like it has never been told before.

With authenticity in mind, we took special care in casting, scripting, and throughout production to represent children’s stories and experiences as accurately as possible. For example, each child featured in the film spoke the language of the country they represent, while the script and set dressing are based on real life experiences.

Using virtual production in this way sets the campaign apart from traditional appeals filmed on-location over the last two decades. It forms part of Save the Children’s broader objective to:

  • ethically tackle appeal stereotypes
  • challenge how advertising portrays children in charity appeals
  • empower children’s voices at the centre of their message

The DRTV campaign is currently live across TV, social and digital to drive donations to their global hunger crisis appeal. Watch the film here and read more about the creative approach.

Traditional DRTV. Fresh Approach.

We aren’t your typical DRTV agency. We integrate your knowledge and expertise with our thinking right from the start; generating real, data-driven insight, breakthrough strategies and original, unexpected ideas. Ideas that drive action and get results.

Our approach to DRTV is always driven by key fundraising success drivers, as well as 3 guiding principles:

  • Authenticity: We use real stories told in as authentic a way as possible.
  • Inclusivity: We take a non-traditional approach to DRTV that is inclusive and sensitive, and moves away from exploitation.
  • Integrated: We always design our DRTV creative with digital integration in mind from the outset.

See more examples of our DRTV here, or check out our latest campaign, Conflict for British Red Cross.

You can also get in touch with us at, or contact Ryan directly at

Want to stay on top of the latest DRTV trends? Join our Relay community.

Sign up to hear about our series of free knowledge-share events for charities, Relay. Every event is available to watch in-full and on-demand, and here are a couple of recommendations to get you started:

More News

See all
See all