21 Mar 2014
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Award-winning musician Pharrell Williams teamed-up with the UN Foundation on International Day of Happiness on 20 March to support the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). Fans were encouraged to submit videos to the tune of Pharrell’s chart-topping, worldwide hit ‘Happy’ and encouraged to donate to CERF.

“Your donations will help the UN provide life-saving assistance to address some of the world’s most urgent humanitarian crises,” says Pharell in the 12-minute ‘supercut’ of the video.

24 hours of happiness

The day-long campaign – called ‘24 hours of happiness’ – was overwhelmingly supported. More than 1,300 videos from 70 countries were submitted, and social media was flooded with other expressions of happiness.

Some of the videos came from places that have suffered recent crises, including a submission from communities hit by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. In the 48 hours after that storm, CERF had allocated US$25 million to fund rapid relief efforts.

“[The campaign] showed the power of what happens when people come together around something they believe in,” said Aaron Sherinian, Vice President for Public Relations of the UN Foundation. “It raises awareness and funds, and has raised the level of volume of humanity in support of the UN."

Unprecedented social media buzz

Within the first 40 hours, the #HappyDay and related hashtags were used in over 70,000 tweets by more than 20,000 people, for a total of over 211 million impressions. More than 1.6 million photos have been tagged on Instagram with the hashtag #HappyDay.

International Day of Happiness was established by the UN general Assembly in June 2012. On 20 March 2014, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “the pursuit of happiness lies at the core of human endeavours. People around the world aspire to lead happy and fulfilling lives free from fear and want.”

CERF pools contributions into a single fund so that money is available to start relief work immediately in times of crisis. Since its inception in 2006, CERF has allocated more than $3.4 billion for humanitarian agencies doing life-saving work in 88 countries and territories.