Do you take being able to read and write for granted? The reality is that not everyone enjoys the same privilege. There are millions of children around the world today who don’t have access to a basic primary school education.
Montblanc is playing its part in changing this. The brand has once again partnered the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) to support child literacy, unveiling a collection of limited edition writing instruments, timepieces, accessories and leather goods.
The products are unified by a hint of blue sapphire (mirroring the Unicef colour), plus an alphabet-inspired design, which celebrates the significance of writing as a force for good.
As it is, the six characters used (Chinese, Latin, Korean, Japanese, Hindi and Arabic) represent the diversity of world languages. These are said to be the first letters children learn to write at school from around the world.
“We talk about the precious gift of writing, but it should not be just words, we should be able to convert it into action. So that’s our way of trying to help,” states Montblanc’s International CEO, Nicolas Baretzki.
“Montblanc is a big corporation, and therefore we can be helpful and have an impact. I do see it as a pretty good and natural way to be able to give back to the community,” adds Baretzki.
For Montblanc, a lot of thought and hard work was put into designing the products. Montblanc’s creative director, Zaim Kamal, is very proud of the detailing and finishing for each one.
“The pattern that is embossed unto the back of the notebook took us ten tries to get the balance right between the characters, and to get the sizes right so that it will look natural,” says Zaim.
Another Montblanc product, the Meisterstuck pen, has a new design inspired by the Rosetta Stone – long considered as one of the most significant objects in the history of the written word.
Not only did it become the key to unlocking the meaning of hieroglyphs and understanding the culture of ancient human civilisations, it was also one of the first signs of international understanding and cooperation.
Zaim explains that pushing the boundaries of design also meant bringing different cultures together.
For Montblanc, it involved understanding them, and in a way, making them communicate.
“That’s why we took six languages, which represented for us the global knowledge base. When a child learns his first character, no matter in what language or character of writing, then it’s the starting point of a journey into education.”
Spreading good worldwide
Sending a key message of how writing can open up the world, the new Montblanc For Unicef campaign will feature brand ambassador Hugh Jackman across print, online and social media platforms.
By using specific hashtags (#PassItOn, #Montblanc, #Unicef #foreverychild), everyone is invited to share their memories about writing. These will be collected on montblanc.com/unicef and transformed into a virtual journey across the world.
Jackman himself has already kickstarted the campaign. In a posting on Montblanc’s Instagram account, he relates that the most emotional moment in writing for him was a letter from his grandmother shortly before she passed away.
“She lived in England and I was in Australia,” shares the actor, adding, “I wrote to her about my then-to-be wife Deborra-Lee. And she wrote back a very short and beautiful letter: ‘Dear Hugh, she’s the one.’ ”
For the campaign, Montblanc pledges a minimum of US$1.5mil (RM6.6mil) to Unicef. Each of the items sold from the limited edition collection between April 1 this year and March 31, 2018, raises that amount even further.
Funds raised by the initiative will help support national education quality standards that cover teaching methods, the learning environment, community involvement, infrastructure and measuring of learning outcomes.
“Even though we’ve been working so close with Unicef for the last 13 years, at the end of the day, there are still a lot more to be done for kids around the world that don’t have access to education,” points out Baretzki.
On the importance of why everyone should have a chance at education, he notes: “It gives you the basis of understanding. And until you get that, you may not be able to benefit from the outside world.”
Montblanc For Unicef collection
The Montblanc For Unicef collection was unveiled at the New York Public Library – one of the most iconic libraries in the world and a centre for learning and sharing of ideas for over a century.
Hong Kong’s Unicef ambassador Gigi Leung was present during the night. She said that education is a fundamental right of children but not all of them are lucky enough to have access to it.
“I can see the actual work Unicef is doing all over the world in different developing countries. And it’s very important because being able to learn really opens up a future,” stressed Leung.
Other notable guests at the launch in New York included Montblanc brand ambassadors Jackman and Charlotte Casiraghi, plus actors Rami Malek, Diane Kruger, Aissa Maiga and Carly Chaikin.
The Montblanc For Unicef collection will be available starting tomorrow (April 20) at Montblanc’s Pavilion Kuala Lumpur and Suria KLCC boutiques.