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Fill the gap

An initiative to combine product, art & storytelling to reimagine the brand's presence through Product-Service-System design. The proposal covers market research, potential partnerships & GTM Strategy.


Details of the academic workshop


This academic project was a collaboration between UNICEF Belgium and Politecnico Di Milano. UNICEF Belgium (the advocacy and fundraising arm of UNICEF Global) asked us what could be the next iconic product that UNICEF can monetise and extend as a brand presence towards families. They currently sell greeting cards to raise awareness on children's rights.

They asked us:
What can be a next iconic product that UNICEF can sell to raise awareness for children's rights?


Visual Design & Storytelling
User Research & UX Design
GTM & Product Strategy


4 Weeks


UNICEF mission

To carry out their mission, they work at the following levels:


Through our research we were able to establish that UNICEF Belgium is not top-of-mind when people think of NGOs. Notably, respondents were not able to clearly pin-point the focus of UNICEF and did not associate it with the field they are working in. What is more, UNICEF Belgium was not recognised as a separate entity from UNICEF Global.

With these insights in mind, we deduced that Generation Z (i.e., people born after 1996) is the most suitable target group for several reasons.

Thus we reframed the problem...
How might we make UNICEF Belgium accessible & relatable to the GenZ?


Kasturi Roy
Jens Van Haute
Pauline Salez
Wiktor Portka
Andries Reymer (Mentor)


Google Forms, Stakeholder Mapping, Value Proposition Canvas, Business Model Canvas, User Persona, Canva, Microsoft Suite


Banner with Tshirt and fill the gap logo

The Fill the Gap (FTG) Campaign is an initiative to combine product, art, and storytelling to reimagine UNICEF Belgium’s brand and presence. The initiative aims to focus on creating street art, created by local artists, inspired by extraordinary stories of children that UNICEF supports. These stories are associated with the five UNICEF objectives: Health, Education, Protection, Environment & WASH, and Child Rights.

Story of Pascaline on a background of a girl playing football

Every street art will have a blank space that can be completed by adding UNICEF’s new iconic physical product: A T-Shirt. This T-shirt will contain an important element which when placed on the artwork, will complete the painting. By wearing the T-shirt, people can stand in front of the blank spot to “fill the gap” and become part of the big picture, physically and symbolically. People can thus become the missing link between the UNICEF initiatives and the children’s future by buying the T-shirt.

Street art with blue tshirt of girl playing football

Additionally, the QR code in the blank spot is linked to the website, which tells the story, in detail. The campaign is organised every year in a different city of Belgium. By engaging the increasing number of godparents to decide the next city through a voting campaign, FTG will engage and invigorate communities, neighbourhoods and, more importantly, raise awareness about UNICEF's role, objectives, and central area of interest.


An award badge in pink

This project was extremely well recieved by the brand and we were invited to present our findings and solution to the company's C-level management. We also had the interest of several local artists, museums and partner companies who wanted to get involved in this project as soon as it was put in place.

The Director of UNICEF Belgium awarded us the first position and best team certificate in this workshop.


Approach, Tools & Methodology


To narrow down the target group and get insights on the brand image of UNICEF, we performed 25 face-to-face interviews with people on the street in Antwerp and Milan combined with 55 responses in an online survey conducted in Italy, Belgium, and Poland. Additionally, we also read reports and surveys conducted in the field of philanthropy for insights on market gaps (Grand View Research, 2020).

We went through the following workshop model over 3 weeks.


Product Strategy
Experience Design
Business Model & GTM Strategy
Digital Strategy

Approach with timeline of design workshop

Planned Activities & Outcomes

Planned activities including discovery, definition, development and refining


Details of the final solution

The FTG campaign builds an entire experience structure around an iconic product to spread awareness at the macro-level. Not only does the product work independently, but ties into a system of storytelling and interaction.

Users & Audience

quote: 40,000 students skipped school for clinate change

In the Research stage, we focused primarily on understanding the brand reputation of UNICEF Belgium, understanding how fundraising and advocacy works and also how people approach philanthropy. So we did a SWOT across Italy and Europe. We also did competitive benchmarking to understand what others are doing to maintain their brands. And then we moved on to the interviews to establish gaps and painpoints. In these qualitative interviews, we gained insights on which decision making audience to target.

Gen Z user persona with some characteristics

It is no secret that Generation Z has the power of influence. Students, teens, tweens: Focussing on those who have the capability to mass mobilise under the age of twenty five.


  • They do not only want to be part of a bigger purpose, but they are proactive and support new initiatives through social media and mass mobilisation.
  • Self-expression and hyper-personalisation are key values that can be leveraged.
  • The clear expectation of Gen Z is to gain full transparency of the flow of sources that support a particular non-government organisation.
  • They strictly demand to identify the primary purpose of fundraising.
  • They prefer to buy some products rather than donate in order to support charity. Unfortunately, most charity organisations don't offer fashionable or useful products. In turn, they are not attractive to the chosen target group.
  • They have an ability to influence not only their friends, but also their families. Apparently, the influence between Gen Z and their parents works in a one-sided way. So, by targeting these young people,the entire family can be impacted.


Tshirt mockup in blue with football

Iconic Product

The first part of the campaign consists of the product, namely a range of five unisex T-shirts. Each T-shirt represents one pillar of UNICEF (health, education, protection, environment & WASH, or equality).

Why A T-Shirt?

  • We wanted to identify a product that is useful, trendy and doesn’t need any explanation out-of-context
  • It’s a simple, effective solution creating real estate where stories can be told
  • Tying this to Gen Z’s need for self-expression makes it a no-brainer
  • Leveraging existing partnerships, H&M will manufacture the T-shirts, sell on its sustainability page and take it back for recycling


Stakeholder map with elements across lifecycle

Stakeholder Mapping

H&M will be the primary T-shirt manufacturer since it is already a current partner of UNICEF. Local authorities must grant permission for the street art on the wall. Participation in the project is also beneficial for them as it will grab media attention and promote the city nationally and internationally.

Service System

service system mockup

USER JOUrney map

The street art campaign was proposed as a yearly event in major Belgian cities. In a city, UNICEF will commission five murals based on stories of children who benefitted from UNICEF and its objectives. The murals will be designed by local street artists to promote local culture and tourism.

Each mural will include an empty square with a QR code that visitors can scan with a smartphone. The QR code will send people to the website and store of the FTG campaign. On the website, visitors can read the story and further, find the other paintings and their locations.

customer journey of people seeing the art in news paper and using social media

We wanted to launch this campaign through TG-oriented distribution on social media, as well as podcasts and offline activations. And we also wanted to leverage current traditional channels like newspapers and newsletters for existing clientele.

The user sees this information and goes to see the art. At the space, you can see there's a UNICEF pop-up store where you can buy the product as well info about the QR code. With the quality of the Tshirt, the story and the artwork, the user is sold and it really doesn't hurt that it's not that expensive.

illustrated pop up store
illustration of man infront of artwork

And then the customer physically interacts with the artwork by wearing the T-shirt and standing in front of the mural. And this physical presence of the artwork also inspires neighborhood pride, which is a behavioral impact at a larger scale.

Gifting solution: Impact of the project

Go-to-Market Strategy

Website & App

Briefly taking a look at the hierarchy and messaging:

  • The primary message is Campaign Branding > Story > Tshirts & ecommerce > Impact
  • They would be featuring wholesome, interesting stories that don't seem too gimmicky or too number-driven and bland.
  • The status bar, which maps the impact in a sort of gamified way to ensure that we reach the final goal
  • We also need to note the tone of voice of UNICEF, which is quite serious, and that these need to be translated in French, Dutch and English

Business Model

To bring together all of these smaller elements, we went ahead with a Business Model Canvas, Value Proposition Map and a Service Blueprint.

Business model canvas with key partners, activities and value proposition

According to the Business Model Canvas, we determined that the revenue engine of FTG campaign is projected to be influenced by:

What I Learnt

Some key insights

1. emotional Investment in purchase

Having chosen GenZ as the overall target group, it was crucial that we understand the motivations of this persona. It is clear that while they do not have very many philanthropic intentions (due to lack of disposal income), they do care a lot about transparency and emotional investment in their purchases. And, because they use fashion as a medium of self expression, we decided to have a range of options (connected to different stories & UNICEF pillars). To choose a specific art/T-shirt, can direct GenZ passions towards a specific pillar, such as below.

set of five tshirts in red, blue, white, yellow and green

2. Breaking A Deadlock

The optics of H&M as a partner was an aspect that we were quite divided on as a group. On one hand, the giant corporation has been called out for green-washing and other unethical practices, and on the other hand, their sustainability drive can be one of those large-scale changes that are key to GenZ motivations. This could also push other brands to 'close the loop'.

Mockup of H&M website

Partner Site Mockup

Here, we decided to look at the bigger picture. An association with UNICEF could be beneficial for both brand presences, and could lead the manufacturing giant to take tangible steps towards child rights and sustainability. In these tricky situations, I believe it really boils down to impact for the end customer, who should be able to access your product and feel good about it.

3. Story = Stakeholder

On a more personal level, I think I really enjoyed working on this project because I found a way to incorporate art and storytelling as an intrinsic part of the project.

Connecting to the idea of emotional investment above, to be able to tell an important story of a real person can create real change. The stories that UNICEF puts out are basically reportage and journalistic, and are devoid of emotion. We needed to make it very human and evocative.

In our research insights, UNICEF comes across as a giant, almost corporate because of the lack of accountability and traceability.

And so we wanted to use this storytelling to be extremely emphatic and emotional, and also ensure that people become part of the story.

4. Transparency & Social Proof

We found that the inclusion of a Loading Bar, to show the fulfilment of pledges made by a corporate, was an effective choice. A corporate pledge supporting the initiative gave the project the social proof it needed, and at the same time, allowed a customer to see their individual impact.

Loading bar showing number of tshirts sold

5. Sythesizing or Saying No

Research and data gathering is crucial, but synthesising that data in such a matrixed project with numerous stakeholders is where the battlefield is. Having to say no to different aspects of the PSSD, to keep a realistic scope, and still be able to create an impactful solution is the delicate balance that we need to achieve.


Mistakes & Next Steps

1. Incorporate Feedback & Testing

Approved as a proposal, the natural next step is to test out some of the features and the viability with the target audience. I would pursue the making of the website and test out the UX features, because that is my area of interest and specialisation.

2. Deepen Partnerships

HM X UNICEF merchandise


This proposal relies heavily on a partnership, and it is important to imagine what that would look like in the long term. Starting from just a T-shirt, we would imagine different merchandise options that could be produced to engage customers for a longer period of time.

This project really helped me hone my skills in research and high level strategy, wherein a lot of matrixed complex stakeholders like cities, museums and walls of buildings were involved. So, engaging with these public and non-profit organisations taught methe ethos of working for the good of the people. I think there is inherent goodness in that and it made for a challenging but pleasurable sprint.

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