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Where would you be without an education?  

Hypnotist strips ordinary people of their ability to read and write in new video to highlight plight of 3.6 million child refugees denied an education

London – 13th September 2016 – Ahead of two major summits on the global refugee crisis, anti-poverty group the ONE Campaign and multi-award winning creative agency Don’t Panic have teamed up to highlight the plight of refugee children missing out on an education.

In a thought provoking video – Could you forget everything you ever learned? –  members of society from all walks of life  – including doctors, students, parole officers and teachers  – are hypnotised into temporary illiteracy, and then asked to perform basic tasks such as reciting the alphabet, telling the time or writing their name.

The fascinating social experiment shows how even a temporary loss of literacy turns their worlds upside down.  Everyday tasks become impossible to execute – and even dangerous. In the video, a doctor is seen unable to read a medicine bottle and a playwright cannot read the script she’d penned herself.

Roxane Philson, Chief Marketing Officer at ONE said:  “No one can reach their full potential without an education. We wanted to make that point in the most visceral way possible. The volunteers got a small glimpse of how different their lives would be if they couldn’t read or write. But for the millions of refugee children who won’t get an education it’s not just a scary few moments – it’s a lifetime of missed opportunities. This can and must change.”

The video show volunteers experiencing something temporarily, but the stark truth is that this passing experience could be a permanent reality for millions of refugee children who are not receiving basic education. Without providing an education for children fleeing conflict and instability, they won’t have just lost their homes, they’ll have lost their future. The film ends by posing a question to the viewer: Where would you be now without an education?

Launching before world leaders and government officials meet at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants as well as President Obama’s Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, on 19th and 20th September, the film aims to encourage people to take action by signing a petition to put education at the forefront of discussions at the summits. If successful, this will set in motion a plan to provide 1 million refugee children with an education by the end of the school year.

Joe Wade, Managing Director at Don’t Panic said: “The film manages to capture an array of emotions faced when people are robbed of the ability to function in everyday life. From anger, distress and shock as people are completely terrified by their inability to do tasks they regard as essential in their everyday lives.”

– ENDS –


Agency – Don’t Panic:

MD: Joe Wade

Project Lead: Helen Jackson

Project Assist: Ellie Moore & Josh Clarricoats

Creative:  Saxony Goodwin, George McCallum,Tom Loader & Maria Goucha

Production – Pulse:

Director: Sam Wrench

Producer: John Bannister

Project Lead: Stephen Whelan

Sound Design: Simon Little

Client – One.org:

Creative Director: Meagan Bond

Chief Marketing Officer: Roxane Philson

About Don’t Panic

We are Don’t Panic, a creative+ agency. We’re the most-awarded agency in the content space. We specialise in creating shareable, contagious campaigns using a mix of informed digital planning and brilliant ideas. We use it to build brands, disrupt convention and ensure action. We deliver our messages with humour, intelligence and integrity to inspire people to think in unfamiliar ways and do something about it.

For more information about Don’t Panic, contact Emily Slee, or Olivia Gill at Eulogy: [email protected] / 020 3077 2000

About the ONE.org campaign:

ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organisation of more than seven million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, we raise public awareness and press political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programmes. ONE operates from Berlin, Brussels, Johannesburg, London, Paris and Washington DC.

For media queries about ONE or ONE’s refugee campaign, please contact Chris Mitchell on [email protected] or 07901006799


  • This September, at the UN High-Level Summit for Refugees and Migrants, and the Leaders’ Summit for the Global Refugee Crisis, leaders must commit the financing and policy changes necessary to ensure that every refugee child gets a quality education as soon as possible. As a first step this year, leaders need to deliver on the promises of the Supporting Syria and the Region Summit in London in February 2016, and make available the money pledged there to ensure that 700,000 Syrian refugee children have access to education. Given the scale of this global crisis, with an estimated 3.6 million school-aged children not in education, donors should also commit new funding to reach 300,000 more refugee children. Taken together, this support would ensure that education would be provided to at least one million out of school refugee children.
  • All participants were sourced in an open public casting publicised through social media and were not informed beforehand of the cause or what would be taking place on the day, bar that it would involve hypnotism and was for a charitable cause.
  • Our hypnotist was the renowned stage hypnotist & mind reader Chris James