Project Life Jacket: Refugees ARE also humans beings

Project Life Jacket is a new outreach campaign about the perception of refugees in Europe. Intending to portray the displaced as people and no longer as refugees, they are asked to share their “normal” past lives. Their past lives are drawn in their life jacket, the item that changed everything.

Project Life Jacket is an initiative launched by The Voice Of Thousands, Borderfree and Schwizerchrüz organizations and produced by the advertising agency Jung von Matt.

Refugees for People

The campaign, with a new approach of portraying refugees in the Media, challenges all the other sorts of communication and messages we have been seen in the Media during the refugee crisis. Or even before, that we also had refugees seeking for asylum in Europe coming from another countries in war.

And it is when the possibility for an alternative vision of a problem arises that I, personally, understand the power of “schemata of interpretation” that Goffman defines as a frame (what enable individuals to locate, perceive, identify and label events between their life space and their world at large). Since the fact of “identifying” is something necessary for people to understand facts, we, communicators, have to be very careful when framing to avoid making the mistake of stereotyping and therefore diverting the issue away.

The message of the campaign is framed in a very concrete and powerful way: Refugees are normal people.

The storyline is held by individuals sharing their personal lives, an approach closer to the public.

And the initiative uses frame alignment by stressing commonality; refugees have had normal lives just like European citizens have before they had to flee leaving their lives behind.

It seems clear that Jut von Matt campaigners are aware of the importance of frame alignment (when individual’s interests, values and beliefs are complementary to Social Movements Organizations’ activities goals and ideologies), seen as a necessary condition for participation (Snow, Rochford, Worden and Benford: 1986), since their ultimate goal is represented by the mobilizing message of “Help Refugees Now”.

The refugee crisis have passed through different stages and have had different reactions from people. This campaign questions all this stages by giving a totally different approach of stop seeing refugees as something alien to us and finding similarities instead, to be abe to emphasize and act.




The Voice Of Thousands, Borderfree and Schwizerchrüz. 2016. Available:

Snow, David A. Rochford, E. Burke. Worden, Jr., Steven K. and Benford, Robert D. 1986. Frame alignment processes, Micromobilization and Movement Participation. Vol 51, No. 4, pp. 464-481



5 thoughts on “Project Life Jacket: Refugees ARE also humans beings”

  1. It’s a wonderful idea to reframe the notion of refugees and present these people as PEOPLE. Furthermore, I like the artistic way they used to capture the lives of the ones who had to flee their home. However, I think in order to portray these people without framing them as refugees, Jung von Matt could have gone a bit further and do not paint their stories on life jackets, since life jackets have become a major symbol for the refugee crisi in the media. And thus, do not clearly free these people from the stereotyping notion of being refugees.


  2. I have always had an interesting to write on the plight of refugees most especially with the ever growing rate of internally displaced persons. A campaign for the plight of such people would go along way in achieving its success as a lot of people can easily relate to the way of life of refugees.

    However, Framing can be used to conquer the stereotypes the Refugees face.


  3. That’s a really interesting initiative – I love these sort of efforts to draw out individual testimony. I wish campaigns did this more often, as its a very powerful way to personalise big, complicated issues like the ‘refugee crisis’.


  4. What a great idea, of which I wasn’t aware of before reading this, thank you. I agree with comments above about the potential power of telling individual stories to personalise and therefore reverse the demonstration of refugees. One of the most striking images the media picked up on amidst the ongoing crisis was the image of the young boy who was photographed washed up on a beach, which provoked sympathy for the children affected by the situation. Whilst this served highlight the severity issue, Project Life Jacket appears to be tackling a bigger, overarching issue which focuses on shaping the future life for refugees and displaced people.


  5. Talking about refugees I have always thought that we could be the next ones. It seems impossible because we live in the EU but I met Syrian and Lebanese people in congresses around the world like me and now they are refugees or, worse, they are dead. I like so much this campaign because it shows refugees like real persons, what they really are.


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