As we approach International Women’s Day 2015, we take a look at an anti-domestic abuse campaign that’s hitting the headlines for all the right reasons.
In what has proven to be a lethal mix of clever copy, breakneck response times and impossible-to-ignore visuals, the Salvation Army in South Africa has today (6 March) launched a powerful new advertising campaign to raise awareness of violence against women.
The campaign appeared online this morning and has already been shared thousands of times by people across the globe using #StopAbuseAgainstWomen. It’s not difficult to see why.
The campaign shows a woman sporting what many people will recognise as ‘The Dress’ – arguably the most controversial garment since Gaga’s meat ensemble, thanks to its tendency to appear as either white and gold or black and blue depending on the person and the version of the photograph they were looking at.
What last week had the world tying itself in knots over whether they needed an eye test, The Dress’ latest outing for the Salvation Army in South Africa poses a whole host of new questions, not least the campaign strapline “Why is it so hard to see black and blue?”
The campaign is a heady mixture of slick intertextual references and perfect timing. Without the noise and confusion around The Dress last week, we’d look at this and see an otherwise typical campaign execution showing a women wholly undeserving of the violent treatment she has clearly been dealt. An unsettling image and a reminder of the violence faced by women? Certainly. But something capable of gaining the kind of momentum we’ve seen today? Probably not.
If the Salvation Army had launched this three weeks down the line, the campaign would have lost its saliency. Our collective psyche would had moved beyond debates about whether we saw black and blue versus white and gold and on to the next internet sensation. We saw this with brands who tried (and failed) to create owned ‘Harlem Shake’ videos long-since the original online creators had moved on from the trend.
Instead, we’ve seen a master class in proactive communication that hijacked popular culture and wrapped it in a concise and compelling anti-domestic abuse message. Clever, shareable and impossible to ignore – the black and blue debate looks set to continue. A campaign that has all the hallmarks of leaving those who failed to think of it first green with envy.
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