Omaze and Idris Elba’s Valen­tine cam­paign for W.E. Can Lead

Exhibited by
Joe Burnett
February 14, 2019
Medium of Communication
Target Audience
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

Who could resist this superb campaign? A chance to dine with Idris Elba? Here's hoping they run it again. Capitalising on Elba’s massive popularity, Omaze and W.E. Can Lead made a brilliant offer to their supporters: they could bid for the joy of going on a ‘date’ with the Luther star. Making the most of online technology, they ensured the campaign went viral, spreading the word around the world to maximise donations. That’s the power of love (and Idris Elba).

Summary / objectives

In January 2017, American online fundraising platform Omaze teamed up with Idris Elba and W.E. Can Lead (Women Everywhere Can Lead, a girls’ education charity) to offer fans a chance to win the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be Idris' Valentine to raise funds and awareness for W.E. Can Lead. Omaze set out with the goal of providing 1,000 young girls with year-long empowerment workshops in Sierra Leone and, in addition to offering a chance at a dream date with Idris, they aimed to give fans access to exclusive merchandise and fun, engaging content to maximise excitement and donations.


First, Omaze collaborated with Idris and W.E. Can Lead to develop a dream experience that would excite fans to participate. The winning concept was the chance to be Idris' Valentine, in which the winner would be flown out to London to have dinner with Idris and participate in an activity such as wine tasting and art class. For as little as a $10 donation to W.E. Can Lead, fans could enter for their chance to win.

Omaze’s goal was to leverage social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), email, and PR to maximise campaign awareness and funds raised over the five-week campaign. They produced two pieces of video content with Idris, and supplemented these with numerous photo assets. For the creation of all campaign creative, they aimed to craft materials that would appeal to his female-skewing audience. And, for the videos, they gathered insights from Omaze's hundreds of past campaign videos produced in-house (which have garnered over 500 million total views). Among these are a number of viral, comedic videos that were hugely successful at driving interest and donations for past campaigns.

In Idris' launch video, conceived of and produced by the Omaze team, Idris describes some of the activities supporters might partake in with him if they win the Valentine's date. This includes dinner, drinks, dessert, and ‘pounding his yams’ - Idris pitches all of the above from an upscale hotel room surrounded by red roses, champagne, and chocolate truffles.

In the second Omaze-produced video, released 3 weeks into the campaign, Idris seeks dating advice from an unexpected source: kids! Questions range from what happens on a date, to what kind of food one should order, to what kind of dance moves will be most impressive. The kids advise Idris on whether a bad boy or good guy persona will be more successful, and offer up personal opinions on whether or not they'd like to be his Valentine.

These videos were pitched out and received broadcast coverage on Good Morning America and The Today Show, and the campaign was covered by outlets such as CNN, BBC, Huffington Post, Time, and Yahoo! News, amongst others. The video and photo assets (which included Idris holding a rose with his teeth, and pointing at signs asking viewers to dine with him and be his Valentine) were also posted to the Facebook and Instagram pages of both Idris and Omaze to increase reach and viral impact.


The campaign was an incredible success and won a Shorty Award honouring the best of social media.

Length of campaign:

  • 5 weeks


  • 30,000 donors
  • 140 countries represented


  • The launch video reached 22 million on Facebook and garnered 7.5M views
  • The kids video reached 20 million on Facebook and got 6.2M views

Campaign total Facebook reach:

  • 351K post reactions.

Idris Elba's Facebook:

  • Grew by over 100K
  • Top 6 posts of all time on his Facebook page each pertain to this campaign

Total raised:

  • Over $750K (doubling the initial goal!)


  • The funds raised from the campaign will send 2,250 young girls in Sierra Leone to an empowerment workshop for an entire year.

Ready to swoon? Sandra R. and Diana S. were the two lucky ladies who each won their own Valentine’s date with Idris Elba.