Marketing and Comms
Unilever's Project Sunlight Aims to Motivate People to Live More Sustainably

In honor of Universal Children’s Day (November 20), Unilever today launches a new long-term initiative, Unilever Project Sunlight, to motivate millions to live sustainably. With the help of pop star and new mom Fergie, Unilever aims to inspire people to help create a brighter future by making donations to help two million children.

In following up its pioneering Sustainable Living Plan, the consumer goods giant, whose brands include Dove, Lipton, Suave, Hellmann’s, Q-tips, Vaseline and Ragu, wants to make sustainable living desirable and achievable by inspiring people to imagine the possibilities of a world where everyone lives well, within the natural limits of the planet.

Project Sunlight follows the sun by launching first at dawn in Indonesia, then India, the U.K. and Brazil before culminating in the U.S. The campaign is designed to appeal to people everywhere, in particular parents, encouraging them to join what Unilever sees as a growing community of people who want to make the world a better place for children and future generations — as illustrated by the moving video below.

To mark the launch of Project Sunlight on Universal Children’s Day, Unilever will be helping two million children through its ongoing partnerships. This funding will give:

  • School meals to one million children through the World Food Programme, which provides strong incentive to send kids to school rather to work in the fields
  • Clean, safe drinking water for up to 500,000 children in emergency response programs through Save the Children
  • Improved hygiene through UNICEF, which will give 500,000 children across 3,500 schools in India a healthier start in life by providing hand washing facilities and promoting group hand washing programs

Additionally, this holiday season in the U.S., Unilever is partnering with Feeding America to donate an additional two million meals to help the 1 in 5 children who face food insecurity every day in America.

Fergie“Becoming a mom has naturally affected how I look at the future and the possibilities it holds for my son,” said Fergie. “Suddenly, every act, every event has more meaning. He makes me want to be better, do better and make the world a better place — for him and for children everywhere. That’s why it is important for me to be a part of the global launch of Unilever Project Sunlight.”

In the first stage of Project Sunlight, Unilever is inviting people to take three simple actions: SEE, ACT, JOIN.

Unilever wants to help people see a brighter future by watching a film online. The film, especially commissioned by Unilever and directed by Academy Award-winning director Errol Morris, inspires people to see the future in a more positive and optimistic way.

Unilever is encouraging people to act by doing small things which, added together, contribute to a better society and environment. The company created an online hub, projectsunlight.us, to showcase the social mission stories of Unilever brands around the world and invite people to get involved in doing small things that help their own families, help others and help the planet. Some of the brand programs featured include Dove, which helps girls across the world improve their self-esteem; Lipton, Ragu and Knorr, whose increasing use of sustainably grown ingredients helps small farmers grow better crops and improve their livelihoods; and the Suave water-conservation initiative, Turn off the Tap. Ultimately, the company wants people to join by registering on projectsunlight.us to become part of a growing community of like-minded people and organizations who all want to play their part in building a brighter future.

Unilever says Project Sunlight has been informed by the wealth of its consumers’ insight, including a new international piece of research commissioned by the company. This shows that children are key to motivating adults to want to adopt more sustainable lifestyles and a powerful influence on parents changing their behavior. Nine out of 10 parents say children’s natural optimism and enthusiasm inspires them to make the world a better place, and seven out of 10 parents say their main motivation for wanting to live in a greener way is their children’s future. The research also shows that there are key child-related moments, particularly around the birth of a first child, when people are more open to changes in their own behaviors and lifestyles.

“We chose the name ‘Sunlight’ as a tribute to our founder William Lever, whose audacious vision 130 years ago to ‘make cleanliness commonplace’ with Sunlight soap inspired our equally ambitious purpose today: to make sustainable living commonplace. Sunlight also reflects the sense of possibility and optimism which characterizes the Unilever approach,” adds Kruythoff. “We believe that large companies like ours have to be part of the solution to the problems the world is facing. Adopting sustainable lifestyles and people using their purchasing power to make consumption choices that are good for them and good for the world are important factors in the drive to reduce social inequality and avert the worst predictions for the planet –and to make sustainable living commonplace.”

For Universal Children’s Day, another inspiring initiative: This week, Back to the Roots announced the launch of “Grow Food. Give Food,” a new joint campaign with healthy school-lunch provider Revolution Foods that is helping the two like-minded organizations further both of their missions to educate and inspire children about healthy food. The campaign encourages people to vote for one of three schools to receive free servings of fresh veggies from Revolution Foods to augment their lunch program through the end of the year.

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