Campaign: The Incomplete Masterpiece
Brand: Public Ministry of the State of São Paulo
Agency: VML

“My life has changed and will never be the same,” so begins the sad story of one mother whose child has gone missing. In this poignant piece called “The Incomplete Masterpiece” created by agency VML for the Public Ministry of the State of São Paulo (PLID) we see two narratives juxtaposed against each other.

To raise awareness of this important work, we first hear the stories from the mothers that have missing children, telling the heartbreaking stories of how their lives have been changed beyond all recognition by having a child disappear. Secondly, concurrent to these messages, the voiceovers are played against a film showing footage of one of the girls being removed from Auguste Renoir’s “Pink and Blue” (1881), one of the great artistic treasures in Brazil.

Pairing together the dramatic change of this iconic artwork and the painful stories from the mothers has a remarkable effect on the viewer, putting the personal tragedies in focus. As the artist is carefully erasing the young girl from the painting, working to remove every trace of her, the viewer realises how terrifyingly easy it is to paint over this particular child, but also how horrifyingly difficult it is for a mother to come to terms with her situation. As one woman laments, “missing her kills me little by little.” Once the erasing in the painting is complete, we are left with the message “if you miss a child in a painting, imagine how a family feels.”

The mothers are then shown talking about their missing daughters, their names, and when they disappeared. There is no uplifting ending as these girls are still missing, but it has raised awareness of an important issue, and made the viewer understand what this loss must mean, hopefully enough to take a look at the dedicated missing persons website to see if they can do anything. Because as the information tile lets us know “any information helps.”