About us

Breakthrough helps governments, communities, businesses, and NGOs succeed.

We believe good storytelling and communications can strengthen society and inspire positive social change.

We build campaigns and movements that address complex social challenges – including extremism, climate change and conflict.

From our offices in London, Sydney, Baghdad, Mogadishu and Nairobi, we employ over 150 staff working across research, planning, strategy, design and production.

Clients & Partners

Breakthrough’s clients and partners include governments, non-profits, inter-governmental organisations and progressive companies.

Our clients are the commissioners or funders of our work – usually government departments – and our partners are usually community organisations, NGOs, spokespeople and experts whose campaigns and efforts we support.

x

Team

Meet Breakthrough’s management team:

Robert Elliott

Founder and Joint CEO

With over 10 years’ experience working in the television production industry – primarily drama and factual – Robert founded Breakthrough with creativity, rigorous ‘behind the scenes’ management and a keenness to understand audiences at its core.

Robert has a passion for storytelling and believes powerful communications can bring about real, positive social change.

Since founding Breakthrough in 2008 he has grown the company into an international business with over 150 staff across three continents. Robert maintains a hands on role – overseeing communications projects based around the needs of Breakthrough’s clients and the communities they support.

Scott Brown

Joint CEO

Scott joined Breakthrough in 2012 with the ambition to build the company into a reliable and prestigious brand that puts understanding audiences’ experiences and exceptionally strong storytelling at the heart of our work, whilst properly and diligently understanding the needs, challenges and sensitivities of our clients and partners.

Scott previously project managed major communications campaigns at M&C Saatchi, Bell Pottinger and the UK Conservative Party. Today, Scott retains a hands on role in the agency, primarily guiding us through the setting up of projects in new territories and delivering on our growth plan.

Helen Davies

Managing Director, UK

Helen heads up Breakthrough in the UK and is responsible for running the business day-to-day, growing our business across the public and private sector, and playing a key role planning and delivering our campaigns.

Helen started her career in the diplomatic service before transitioning into the world of marketing and communications. Helen’s passion for understanding audiences and exceptional creative work saw her in key leadership roles at WPP group including Managing Director at Added Value (Australasia) and CEO of BPRI.

Helen has lived in over eight countries and worked in many more, affording her a broad, global perspective on best practices across the communications sector which is invaluable at Breakthrough, a company with offices and projects live in over eight key locations.

Louis Brooke

Managing Director, International

Louis Brooke is Breakthrough’s Managing Director of International Projects. Louis’ career has spanned a number of key leadership and project management roles in marketing and communications specialising in government, finance and social enterprise.

Louis has a particular interest in the geopolitics of East Africa and the former Soviet bloc and today passionately leads the development and delivery of projects in these areas that aim to go beyond one-way messaging and instead become an integral part of good governance and security policy.

Louis joined Breakthrough in 2013 and has so far set up our East African offices, consulted on CVE projects on behalf of the UK government at the European Commission and today heads up our business outside the UK and Australia.

Ellie Davis

Director of Operations & Production

Ellie joined Breakthrough in 2014 as a Senior Production Manager from the world of broadcast – BBC, ITV, Shine and Dragonfly – and is now responsible for the company’s business affairs, finances and logistics across our network of offices.

Ellie is passionate about building a trusted relationship with our clients’ commercial teams and, as per the company’s policy, budgeting, planning and cost-reporting in an open and transparent way.

Today, Ellie works closely with Breakthrough’s CEOs, MDs and financial controller to generally manage our business today, whilst planning for our projects of tomorrow.

Margherita Watt

Executive Creative Director

With over 15 years’ experience in marketing, media and communications, Margherita is an established communications specialist with a single-minded focus on using extraordinary storytelling to deliver lasting social change.

Margherita joined Breakthrough having spent three years as Creative and Digital Director for Save the Children developing campaigns designed to improve the lives of children globally and in the UK on issues including the refugee crisis, UK child poverty, sexual violence, inequality and infant mortality.

Today, Margherita leads Breakthrough’s global creative and digital teams across a broad range of specialisms, from developing award-winning designs, and creating compelling communications through film and photography, to driving sector-leading digital marketing strategies.

Andrew Sharples

Director of Research & Strategy

Andrew is Breakthrough’s Director of Research & Strategy, responsible for developing insights and leading strategic thinking across all of the agency’s projects around the world.

Andrew is a communications specialist with experience of working in the UK, Somalia, Kenya, Zambia, Nepal and Iraq, where he worked closely with the US Army and DoD to develop and implement campaigns designed to counter violent extremism and terrorism. In 2012, Andrew drew on this experience to support the development of a new counter-terrorism communications strategy for the British government that continues to be pursued to this day.

Claire Bamford

Financial Controller

Claire is a chartered accountant (ACA) with 10 years’ post-qualification experience. After training and qualifying with a top 5 national accountancy firm, Baker Tilly, Claire worked as a Financial Controller in the media industry before joining Breakthrough in 2014 to head up our accounts team.

Chris Welcome

Head of HR

Chris joined Breakthrough from the Cabinet Office where he handled director-level talent management across government. He is a trained Occupational Psychologist and CIPD qualified with 6 years of HR experience across a range of senior roles.

Chris now heads up our HR department, leading on all talent issues for Breakthrough employees globally. He has redeveloped our reward strategy, established core HR processes and leads our efforts to find exceptional talent.

x

Our work

campaign

My Former Self

Foundation for Peace

Ffp_inner_A

The life stories of former violent extremists who have turned their lives around can positively influence those at risk of being radicalised. An organisation with decades of experience in sharing these stories with the aim of protecting vulnerable, often young people is the Foundation for Peace, a charity established by Colin and Wendy Parry whose own children died in an IRA bomb attack in Warrington in 1993.

The foundation commissioned Breakthrough to produce content for a multi-channel campaign that delivered the compelling testimonies of former extremists to potentially vulnerable individuals through digital content, workshops, school interventions and engagement.

Breakthrough produced a one-hour educational film featuring four former extremists from different backgrounds. The film explores the reasons why they decided to become involved in violent conflict, the consequences of their decisions, their reasons for leaving their respective groups, and finally how their lives progressed since moving on from violence.

The aim of the resource is to take young people through a journey of understanding and learning about the causes, effects, and legacies of violent extremism. By drawing on the experiences of people who have already gone down that path, My Former Life is a unique project that allows participants to engage with first hand accounts of radicalisation, extremism and the consequences. This works to develop skills such as critical thinking at a time when schools and colleges are looking to fulfil their obligations under the Prevent Duty.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

video

My 2012 Dream

UK government

The London 2012 Olympic Games welcomed athletes from a variety of different backgrounds to the UK’s capital, all struggling to perform their best at the world’s largest sporting event. Muslim athletes were especially challenged as many were also fasting for Ramadan. A minority of online hate preachers seized this opportunity to pedal a narrative that the Games, and indeed the UK weren’t welcoming to Muslims – the reality of course couldn’t be further from the truth.

To counter these narratives, the UK government funded a Breakthrough production celebrating the contribution of Muslim athletes participating in the Olympic Games.

We produced a series of films including a 30-minute documentary following two extraordinary characters, whose stories began very differently; in refugee camps and elite tennis schools, dusty sports fields in rural Pakistan and ruined stadiums in Kabul but ended up at the grand arena of the Olympics.

The film celebrated the triumph of the human spirit against the odds. As our characters strived to reach the Olympic stage; poverty, conflict or setbacks of the past were forgotten.

The documentary aired across the world on 11 channels in six different languages on networks including Al-Jazeera Sport and the Islam Channel and received excellent feedback from the networks and viewers alike. Short form video and radio content was produced and distributed across a network of local Ramadan radio stations and community websites in the UK.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

MY2012DREAM_inner

campaign

Ummahsonic

The Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO)

US_inner_A

The Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO) is a charity providing help and support to Muslim communities across the Midlands. They work on a range of projects in the areas of education, housing, and social welfare.

Established over 30 years ago, the FMO has built a genuinely supportive and meaningful relationship with its members and network, however the group recognises the need to better reach younger people in Leicester and across the UK.

Breakthrough has helped the FMO with this challenge by developing Ummahsonic – a multi-media platform featuring regular podcasts, blogs and films aimed at a young, digitally savvy audience.

Podcasts – presented by accomplished broadcasters Inayat Kanji and Sakinah Lenoir and produced at Breakthrough’s studios in London – feature discussions and news items covering a range of topics such as faith, sports, climate change and identity.

Podcasts are complemented by news stories, blogs and memes served up online; all of this content aims to represent the range of interests and subjects relevant to Britain’s diverse community of young Muslims, exploring important issues that affect their everyday lives, from finding a job to Islamophobia, from relationship issues to dealing with the threat of violent extremism in communities.

Ummahsonic is steadily building its fan base, today we’re generating an average monthly reach of over 500,000 people with 6,000 directly engaging with our content.

Check it out at ummahsonic.com

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

campaign

Educate Against Hate

Department for Education

Teachers and parents want to protect young people from radicalisation, hate speech and online grooming. But this can be difficult as advice is often limited and sometimes conflicting, but also the subject matter is complex and media coverage can prompt emotional responses from the public.

The Department for Education commissioned Breakthrough to help support teachers and parents by launching a new advisory online portal. We first partnered with teachers, charities and online safety groups to help us make sense of the advice and information already available. This was then editorialised to be both useful and helpful, with one unified tone of voice.

EAH_hero3

Next our design team presented the information in a clear, approachable and easily accessible way. Primary colours signposted who the content was aimed at: red for parents, yellow for teachers and blue for school leaders. A workbook style was also adopted to give the information a proactive feel for the classroom and at home. Social media content and various offline resources, including a poster for schools and lessons plans, helped teachers encourage and facilitate discussions in the classroom.

Launched in January 2016 by the then Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, the campaign gained national broadcast and print media coverage. Within the first week, the website received over 60k views, while campaign videos were viewed over 85,000 times.

The campaign received encouraging feedback from teachers and parents alike in helping to combat radicalisation. Educate Against Hate was also recognised at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016 by winning a Bronze Lion plus our posters won Silver at the Graphis design awards 2017.

If you are a teacher or parent and have used information from the Educate Against Hate website in the classroom or at home, we’d really appreciate you completing a feedback form available here.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

campaign

Families Matter

Families Against Stress & Trauma (FAST)

Hundreds of Britons have travelled to areas of conflict – mainly Syria and Iraq – and have either died or are unlikely to return, leaving behind families torn apart by grief and unanswered questions.  FAST (Families Against Stress and Trauma) is a UK charity working with families coping with these issues.  FAST offers counselling services and tries to raise awareness about the risks of radicalisation and online grooming so that families can intervene and be resilient.

FAST_inner

Breakthrough developed a campaign called Families Matter which aims to expose the emotional impact on families, equipping family members with the knowledge and confidence to spot and challenge radicalisation. The campaign included a campaign film, website, educational resources, series of workshops and PR activity around a launch event supported by the UK Home Secretary.

Over a quarter of a million people have viewed the campaign film plus the online guidance has been read by thousands of parents. Feedback from at-risk family members indicated that the campaign had helped them explore and discuss this difficult subject in the family home.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

campaign

Quraca Nabadda

Somali Youth Development Network (SOYDEN)

Quraca Nabadda (QN) is a social reconciliation programme implemented by the Somali Youth Development Network (SOYDEN). The 12-week programme aims to consolidate the nascent peace in Somalia through workshops, counselling and offering a pathway out of the vicious cycle of violence for victims of clan conflict, crime, gender-based violence and terrorism.

Breakthrough was commissioned to drive awareness of, and engagement with, the QN programme in the Somali town of Baclad. In addition, the campaign aimed to take the key messages promoted by the QN programme to a wider audience, helping more people create the cognitive break in the cycle of violence by showing how their choices are being determined by the effects of trauma from the past.

QN_inner

To achieve the objectives of the campaign, Breakthrough used a mixture of media and platforms to deliver key messages, these included a poster campaign within the town of Baclad, radio PSAs and a six-part drama aired on national radio, a launch event, and a national social media campaign consisting of written, graphic and video content.

The communications campaign ensured that the 12-week reconciliation programme was fully subscribed and the online and radio messaging reached over 700,000 people.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

campaign

25:22s

Faith on the Frontline

MOD / HMG

The MoD (Ministry of Defence) commissioned Breakthrough to help raise awareness about some of the issues faced by members of the Armed Forces Muslim Association (AFMA), some of whom serve in Muslim countries overseas.

Breakthrough created an integrated campaign centred around a 30-minute documentary entitled Faith on the Frontline following Asim Hafiz, a member of AFMA and the first Imam and British Chaplain to the British Armed Forces as he travels to Afghanistan on his last mission to the country. On his journey he tries to dispel misconceptions that exist among Afghans about the role of Islam in the UK, supports British Muslim soldiers on duty, and tries to foster better relations between Afghanistan’s religious leaders and the armed forces – all against the backdrop of the dismantling British bases following 12 years of military activity in the region.

The film aired on a number of television channels in the UK and overseas including FX, Brit Asia TV and The Community Channel.

To help students in Britain’s schools better understand why and how stereotyping and misrepresentations of Islam, Muslims, other religions and peoples can lead to divisions, marginalisation and conflict, Breakthrough partnered with CTVC’s TrueTube to produce an inter-active lesson plan featuring sections of the film exploring the themes of Prejudice & Stereotypes and Peace & Conflict. The lesson plan and film were nominated at the 2016 BETT awards in the category of ‘Free Digital Content/Open Educational Resources – single issue resource’.

Imam Hafiz also personally met with thousands of young students, hosting discussion groups about the film and answering questions about his work and life as an Imam.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

AFMA_inner

video

24:48s

Mayor of Mogadishu

United Nations Information Support Team (UN/IST)

In early 2011 Somalia’s capital was a battlefield between Islamic insurgencies fighting against the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). As AMISOM made military gains it paved the way for the local government to provide public services under the leadership of Mohamoud Nour, the newly installed Mayor of Mogadishu – who had recently moved to the city from London.

The United Nations Information Support Team (UN/IST) commissioned Breakthrough to produce a film to raise awareness about the improving situation and help challenge the negative prevailing narrative about Somalia.

AMISOM_inner_C

We produced a 30-minute observational documentary following the Mayor himself as he settled into his new role and prepared for his most ambitious initiative, a street festival celebrating Somali culture.

Despite the outbreak of violence captured in the film, we tried to contextualise the security challenges within an overarching narrative of continuing improvements demonstrating the resolve of Mogadishu’s people.

Broadcast globally as part of Al-Jazeera’s Witness series and also on Sweden’s SVT and Belgium’s VRT, the film reached a huge audience across the world including the Somali diaspora.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

video

1:06s

See Something, Say Something

NHS England

Children being treated for illness or injury can sometimes contract additional health complications while in hospital. This is known as ‘deterioration’ and in severe cases can cause permanent and debilitating conditions or even death.

Because medical staff and parents are often focused on the symptoms of the original condition, the signs of deterioration are often missed. However if they are recognised and acted upon early enough, many debilitating conditions can be avoided.

The NHS commissioned Breakthrough to plan and deliver a range of communications assets to educate clinical staff and parents about how best to act should they spot the signs of deterioration.

Breakthrough developed an online advertisement featuring a child patient describing how his health is deteriorating as if he were a doctor. The film was nominated for ‘Best Commissioned Film’ in the 2015 Haelo Awards and was shared through the social media channels of the NHS and played in over 200 GP surgeries across the UK.

In addition, Breakthrough produced a series of 10-minute online lectures aimed at clinical staff. These lectures covered a range of topics including: how to work more closely with parents and other clinical staff to spot the signs of deterioration, how to use innovative new systems to gauge the level of deterioration and finally how to treat some forms of deterioration. These lectures have been shown at a number of NHS conferences throughout the UK and are also available as part of an online course.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

campaign

Somali Youth Day

Anti-tribalism movement

image002

The Anti Tribalism Movement (ATM) fosters dialogue and action that brings together individuals and communities from different tribes and clans within Somalia. They empower young people to challenge inherited prejudice that cause conflict and social instability and they create leaders and ambassadors to advocate for tolerance, peace and development.

To celebrate Somali Youth Day, the ATM worked with Breakthrough to create a forum where young people from different tribes and clans could come together and discuss how they could contribute to a positive future for Somalia. The forum was designed to harness the fact that Somali youth can and have played an important role in the recent prosperity of Somalia and encourage other young Somalis to play their part in the development of the country.

In addition to organising the forum, Breakthrough designed a campaign to take the key messages to a wider audience throughout Somalia. To do this we organised a billboard campaign within Mogadishu, a national social media campaign consisting of written, graphic and video content and a four-week radio PSA campaign. We also broadcast the forum live on national radio and set up an inbound SMS and call service to allow the radio audience to contribute to the discussion.

The campaign gained significant interest throughout Somalia; the forum itself was oversubscribed, the radio broadcast received hundreds of inbound SMS messages and calls and the online campaign reached over 250,000 people.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

video

25:51s

Return to Somalia

Anti-tribalism Movement (ATM), United Nations Information Support Team (UN/IST)

By 2012 Somalia’s story was changing. The country was no longer seen as the “most dangerous place on earth” as it was often known. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) had made widespread security gains and the economy was growing rapidly. These improvements led to large numbers of Somali nationals returning home after many years overseas.

The United Nations Information Support Team commissioned Breakthrough to show the gains that the security forces and Somali government had made and encourage up-skilled, educated Somalis to invest in the country’s future. We set out to produce two character-led observational documentaries and identified two sets of contributors from the US and the UK to feature in separate films entitled ‘Return to Somalia’.

From London, we followed Adam and Abdi, two young, energetic men who run an NGO that aims to eradicate inter-tribal discrimination in Somalia and across the world. From the US, we followed Aliya, a young American hip-hop music manager, who left her life in Washington DC to explore her identity as a Somali woman in a conservative society.

The film was distributed around the globe, reaching audiences on Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DRTV), across Africa on M-Net and Fox Africa, as well as other channels in the UK, US, and Africa. The two films also gained over 180,000 views on YouTube in the first few months of being released.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

campaign

1:11:34s

Watatu

S.A.F.E.

Produced in Partnership with S.A.F.E. – a Kenyan NGO – ‘Watatu’ shines a light on sectarian tensions in Mombasa between the coastal Christian and Muslim communities. Breakthrough produced a number of materials, mainly a feature film, designed to encourage dialogue in communities and build resilience against violent extremism and terrorist recruitment.

The film ‘Watatu’ explores the relationship between two old friends who find themselves living next door to each other after losing touch for years. However, they struggle to hold their friendship, families and communities together, after a church is attacked.

The plot was developed through workshops with young people and the script was then performed as a ‘forum theatre’ workshop across key locations in Mombasa. Audiences watched the play and then were invited to assume the lead roles to create an alternative ending, in which the characters stand up to violence and extremism in the community.

The final film includes documentary footage of the forum theatre workshops and an alternative ending developed through the workshops. The film was picked up by the Kenyan press and premiered in Nairobi cinemas. It is due to air on TV as well, and was also the only African film to be screened at the Rome film festival in 2015. After a preview with community and religious leaders in Mombasa the film is being distributed by S.A.F.E. in schools and community centres across the coastal region.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

video

3:09s

Dementia & Ebola public information films

Department of Health (DoH)

The Department of Health (DoH) commissioned Breakthrough to produce a short series of films about the symptoms of dementia as well as the stigmas and attitudes associated with the disease. Both series were developed in consultation with medical professionals as well as the communications team at the DoH.

The DoH also commissioned Breakthrough to produce a series of quick-turnaround short interviews with Dame Sally Davies, the UK Chief Medical Officer, who in her address talks about the threat of Ebola in the UK, and the government’s response.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

video

Medina response film

Muslimvillage.com

On 4th July four security guards were killed after a suicide bomb detonated outside the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia, Islam’s second holiest site. The attack took place during Ramadan at the time of Iftar. In the immediate aftermath of the attack no responsibility had been claimed for the attack but there was widespread speculation that it had been carried out by violent extremists in the name of Islam.

The attack generated a lot of commentary online from the Muslim community who felt deeply affected. Breakthrough captured a number of these voices highlighting the range of emotions, opinions and reactions to the attack so that Australian Muslims could powerfully add their support for those killed and injured in the attack, and against violence.

The film launched on the Muslim Village Facebook page and has been watched by tens-of-thousands of Australians, and liked by over 1600 people.

For more information about this campaign and other projects at Breakthrough please get in touch.

Join us

If you’re interested in exploring job opportunities at Breakthrough, please visit our LinkedIn jobs page to look up specific roles or speculatively send your CV along with a covering letter to jobs@breakthroughmedia.org.

Why work at Breakthrough?

We are known for our imaginative and powerful campaigns, collaborative approach and partnerships, our innovative solutions, and great client relations.

Our success is down to our amazing people. Our staff are “clever grafters”, curious by nature and always aiming to deliver for our clients and partners to a high standard. We are always on the look out for people who are passionate about communications and buy in to our core values:

Be human: We only do work that puts people alongside profit. We believe in creating shared values for our clients and the communities they support.

Collaborate: We believe that lasting change starts by empowering the grassroots: it begins when ordinary people come together; engage in dialogue and understand their differences.

Innovate and disrupt: We welcome fresh ideas and inventive solutions wherever they come from. We constantly look to innovate and evolve in order to remain ahead of the curve. We know that to cut through we sometimes have to disrupt.

 

Our offices

We have offices in London, Nairobi, Mogadishu, Baghdad, Sydney and Tunis.

London

Elizabeth House
39 York Road
London SE1 7NQ

+44 (0)20 7401 2555
hellouk@breakthroughmedia.org

Nairobi

P.O Box 14230-008001
Westlands
Nairobi, Kenya

+254 (0)736 150 738
hellokenya@breakthroughmedia.org

Sydney

PO Box 524
Broadway
NSW 2007

+61 406 685 675
helloaustralia@breakthroughmedia.org

Mogadishu

C/O P.O Box 14230-008001
Westlands
Nairobi, Kenya

+254 (0)736 150 738
hellosomalia@breakthroughmedia.org

Baghdad

C/O Elizabeth House
39 York Road
London SE1 7NQ

+44 (0)20 7401 2555
helloiraq@breakthroughmedia.org