Positioning of Belgian Development Cooperation


In 2023/2024, Think BBDO worked with the FPS Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation to develop a strategy to improve the perception of Belgian Development Cooperation and optimize their communication.

The Problem: 
The activities and results of Belgian Development Cooperation are insufficiently known. Additionally, the topic polarizes the public opinion, with about as many supporters as skeptics. The FPS Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation wanted to develop a communication campaign to make the attitude, especially among 18-24-year-olds, more positive.

Our Approach: 
Think BBDO outlined a strategic process to arrive at the right communication approach. First, research was conducted: an audit on the perception of the Belgian population based on desk research, an analysis of the campaigns of NGOs and federal governments in neighboring countries, as well as an extensive survey among internal and external stakeholders concerning the communication of Belgian Development Cooperation.

Next, two strategic workshops were organized with a wide range of actors familiar with development cooperation to determine the objectives, target audiences, and messages of the communication campaign.
This resulted in the choice of two core messages tailored to the target audience. People with a positive attitude can be reaffirmed in their attitude by emphasizing the importance of international cooperation. Skeptics mainly want to know what the investments yield for them, i.e., ROI.

Subsequently, the creative strategy of the two-sides messages was outlined, which means that in addition to positive arguments, the counter-arguments are also shown. The creative process resulted in three strong concepts that were then tested in group discussions with 18-24-year-olds.

This led to a campaign in which local entrepreneurs refute the negative remarks about development cooperation by demonstrating the impact of their projects in terms of climate, local employment, health, etc.
The first campaign wave with two stories ran on social media in January/February 2024. A second wave with new stories is planned for February 2025.

As part of the campaign, the role of the Openaid website was also analyzed. It was decided to carry out a thorough adjustment to become, in addition to a data platform for experts, a communication tool for the general public. Openaid supports the campaign, brings stories and results of concrete projects, and explains the vision and mission of Belgian Development Cooperation.

Filed under Branding

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