Global citizens at the festival.
Photo by Anthony Scutro

Webby Awards: Global Citizen Festival 2015


Most people don’t hear the words “global poverty” and assume it is a challenge they can tackle. Nor do many associate chart-topping musicians like Beyonce and Ed Sheeran with the cause. However, that is exactly what the Global Poverty Project (GPP) has accomplished through the Global Citizen Festival, and for the second consecutive year, MSNBC has partnered with GPP to amplify the crucial message that small actions can lead to big change. 

Building off tremendous momentum from 2014, MSNBC and the Global Poverty Project set out to make the 2015 Global Citizen Festival bigger and more impactful than ever. The effort was met with the loudest call yet from Global Citizens around the world to end extreme poverty by 2030. From June 2015 through the festival day MSNBC showcased stories and calls to action through a multi-platform approach, which concluding with the live broadcast and online streaming of the entire festival on September 26th. Though the summer, more than 60 pieces of digital content were published to including, 22 web only originals.

From start to finish, MSNBC’s social media platforms served as a chief driving officer to share the message that together we can end global poverty.

A special message from Ed Sheeran - he’s joining the Global Citizen Festival lineup! Save the date for September 26!

Posted by MSNBC on Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The initial goal was to distribute key moments that would garner a heavy response and inspire engagement. This crystalized as Ed Sheeran took to social media exclusively to first announce his participation in the festival.

However, it is MSNBC’s view that to be a part of the movement, you need to be a part of the story, and through a social media focus we set out to create original experiences to engage and activate the community. The MSNBC Snap Challenge, invited participants to follow a Snapchat story and complete a treasure hunt for concert tickets across New York City locations related to clean water access, the environment, and educational resources for women and girls. The challenge garnered 18,000 collective views with a 58% completion rate (and 5 very happy winners). 

10/29/15, 11:11 AM ET

MSNBC Snap Challenge

Leading up to the Global Citizens Festival, MSNBC’s Snapchat followers had the opportunity to win free tickets to see Beyoncé, Pearl Jam, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay. Followers received clues via SHIFTMSNBC’s Snapchat story.

Also, through MSNBC, Celebrities and Global Citizen ambassadors spoke out about the issues we need to come together to solve in order to tackle extreme poverty. This effort was to galvanize the broader community to take action and rise to the challenge of a variety of global goals.

Together We Can…
Celebrities from all walks of life came together to speak out on the issues we should come together to help solve.

Leveraging the power of those voices, we asked our audience across social platforms to share what they would do to create the change they want to see in the world by completing the sentence “As a #GlobalCitizen I will…” with photo, video and text submissions on

Together we can … “stop the abuse of women and girls.” Will you join Jimmy Carter? #globalcitizen

Posted by MSNBC on Thursday, August 27, 2015

By taking action and picturing the change with MSNBC, participants earned points towards free tickets to the Festival.

On September 26th, MSNBC, the Global Poverty Project and Global Citizens around the world came together to inspire millions. The 2015 Global Citizen Festival returned to the Great Lawn in New York City’s Central Park, where 60,000 people gathered for the event, filled with spectacular performances by Beyoncé, Pearl Jam, Ed Sheeran, and Coldplay. MSNBC’s Willie Geist, Janet Mock, Thomas Roberts, and Alex Wagner hosted our special live coverage of the entire concert where, along with the star-studded line up of musical performances, world leaders and activists also gathered to speak out.

2015 Global Citizen Festival
Ten of thousands gathered for the 2015 Global Citizen Festival in New York’s Central Park on September 26 to end extreme poverty by 2030.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and activist Malala Yousafzai and First Lady Michelle Obama gave impassioned calls to action encouraging world leaders to unite and advance educational resources for girls and women. World leaders, humanitarians, and activists came together to lead a coordinated effort and achieve global goals, from tackling climate change to improving global sanitation efforts.

MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts was featured heavily through the broadcast and stream live from the “Action Hub” – the social media center backstage at the festival where celebrities and ambassadors gathered to take and promote social media activations and actions as the day progressed, all of which contributed to more than 2,000,000 actions taken by Global Citizens. 

MSNBC Live, 9/26/15, 5:32 PM ET

Katie Holmes on what it means to be a Global Citizen

Actress Katie Holmes joins Thomas Roberts backstage at the Global Citizen Festival to explain what can inspire people to join in on efforts to extreme poverty by 2030.

MSNBC’s social team activated on the day of the festival across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube to provide exclusive access. Throughout the festival, clips of performances were distributed through Facebook and Twitter allowing the community unable to attend or watch on television to experience the festival in real time.

Our focus has not faded; MSNBC will continue highlighting new global goals and expanding the reach of the message about ending global poverty through the concert and beyond. 

For More:

By The Numbers:

  • 60,000+ people attended the festival
  • 93% increase of viewers on MSNBC over 2014
  • 300+ pieces of content published through MSNBC social media platforms
  • More than 9 million reached through Facebook alone   
  • 2 million+ video views on YouTube
  • 2 million+ actions were taken by Global Citizens 

Webby Awards: Global Citizen Festival 2015