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It is very rare that a marketing or PR campaign stops you in your tracks and makes you think.

Last month, however, a wonderfully creative online campaign really excited me as a communications professional, but more importantly, as an individual living in the UK post 1945.

On the 69th anniversary of D-Day, Channel 4 portrayed a real-time 24-hour reconstruction of events using seven twitter accounts of real-life survivors of the 1944 invasion – D-Day: As It Happens.

DesSo often social media is used for commercial purposes, or personal gain, but this campaign was refreshingly different. It had the essential classic components of a PR activity in terms of delivering an objective – in this case raising awareness of the D-Day landings – but it was also harnessed social media in a compelling and powerful way to deliver a serious message in a very short timescale.

maryWhat was most remarkable was that each of the seven twitter accounts recounted factual, documented events and dialogue from the real-life experiences of the participants complied from previously unpublished research and data.

Tracking the progress of the seven participants on the front, followers were immersed in minute-by-minute events in the lives of different military personnel from a pathfinder, photographer and commando to a submariner and nurse throughout the conflict.

bobThe result was a unique social media experience that conveyed the brutal realism of a pivotal historical event in gripping detail. Compelling, exciting, often heart-wrenching, Channel 4 managed successfully to create a totally captivating experience that used social media in a completely new way to entertain, engage and, most importantly, to educate.

A refreshing lesson from history that many leading brands would do well to learn from.

Meet the seven and read their tweets
Read how twitter fitted into the communications plan

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