UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency

After beating off some stiff competition we were delighted to be awarded the contract of designing this ground-breaking app. To be designed and built to coincide with World Refugee Day the race was on to produce an engaging and successful app in record time!

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My Life as a Refugee App – design, build and promotion

Built for iOS and Android, ‘MY LIFE AS A REFUGEE’ forces players to face the same life-changing decisions refugees make in a true-to-life quest to try to survive, reach safety, reunite with loved ones and re-start their lives. Can you imagine:

  • Being so desperate to escape that you pay a smuggler to help you?
  • The terror of being caught by the army you were fleeing from?
  • The trauma of being separated from your family by war?

‘MY LIFE AS A REFUGEE’ entertains and educates players, compelling them to wrestle with the same perilous dilemmas faced by millions of refugees worldwide. Each story within this FREE app is based on real-life experiences of families torn part by conflict or persecution.

How the game works...

The game features three main characters who have been forced to flee. Months or years of narrative are compressed into each story. Players are obliged to make decisions along the way in order to reach safety.


To further publicise the app we designed and built a dedicated website to showcase its unique features and also act as a portal where journalists and bloggers could download press releases and request an unlocked version of the app for them to review.


We also developed a video highlighting key features of the app in an engaging and interactive way to further provoke interestand even composed the background music. The video was not only broadcast on the site but also YouTube, Vimeo and on the main UN sites and partner web portals.

App Optimisation

There are further considerations to be made regarding the App and how best to present, market and display it within the app stores. Searchability is a key factor in its success and many factors are causal to this:

  • App name
  • App icon
  • App Store classification by category(ies)
  • Android Market classification by category(ies)
  • App Description – for App Store & Android Market
  • Keywords – for App Store & Android Market
  • Launch date

App Marketing

Is an integral part of the success of any app and UNHCR decided to give us control of the total app marketing process as well. The client had decided the app was to be promoted worldwide, so in addition to the UK we actively promoted it in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. For ease of use and to keep track of the entire process we used a dedicated CRM system, which allowed us to concentrate our efforts directly as necessary whilst automating as much as possible.

Our PR activity garnered 1,000 reviews and positive responses from press and public, translating into 10,000 downloads in the first month; soon to reach 100,000 it is destined to be one of the most successful charity apps. Some of the different mechanisms we used as part of the PR process, apart from good old-fashioned telephone conversations, are as below:

  • email newsletters
  • tailored press releases
  • press pack including copy and a selection of imagery
  • app 'preview' on microsite for pre-launch appraisal
  • web banners
  • iAd managed campaign
  • social marketing on Facebook and Twitter, amongst others