It is easy to despair about ever being able to reduce gender-based violence in South Africa, which is one of the scars on the face of what could be a beautiful country.
So much has been said, written and demonstrated through videos, documentaries and even activations … but the problem still seems as vast as ever.
Does that mean we shouldn’t bother trying to get the message out? No.
That’s the idea behind a new campaign by 1st for Women insurance, tying in with the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, which ends on Tuesday next week. I gave Orchids last week to the “Republic of Sexual Abuse” campaign conceptualised by Black River FC ad agency – and I make no apologies for doing the same for the 1st for Women’s campaign.
Both ideas are worlds apart – but both succeed in conveying the stark reality of abuse of women and children.
The 1st for Women idea – conceived by ad agency Fox P2 – rolls out in a number of executions which are images of various abused women and children projected on to the actual places where the crimes against them were committed.
This is, according to the 1st for Women concept, effectively shining a light on to those darkest places of abuse … where the events actually happen.
The first projection was filmed in Faerie Glen, Pretoria. It pays tribute to Chanelle Henning, a young mother who was murdered in November 2011. Other projections pay tribute to victims including Hannah Cornelius who was raped and murdered near Stellenbosch, Clarissa Lindoor who was murdered in Stellenbosch, Courtney Pieters who was raped and murdered – her body was found in Epping Industria, Cape Town – and Janika Mello who was raped and murdered in Heinz Park, Cape Town.
On Tuesday, the last of the “activism” days nationally, a full video of all the projections will be put on to the side of a major landmark in Johannesburg, the company says.
The campaign deserves an Orchid for using the power of the brand to advocate for its customers … and in so doing, put something back into that long struggle for them to be truly free.
Since 2005, the 1st for Women Foundation has contributed over R70 million to various organisations that focus on fighting women abuse. Over this period, 90,000 victims and survivors of abuse have been assisted by the foundation. So it’s more than just words and images.
Interestingly, I thought about 1st for Women and their cheeky campaigns of a few years ago when they had a go at men for being bad insurance risks. What made them funny – for me anyway, although my brother-in-law wanted to report them to the then Advertising Standards Authority – was that they were built around a cliché or stereotype which was itself grounded in truth. Men are generally way more reckless in everything they do, than women are.
However, the new advertising watchdog body, the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB), has just done some weapons-grade “virtue signalling” by banning a radio ad for Volkswagen’s Amarok bakkie, because it was deemed to be sexist and that the “constant entrenchment of gender stereotypes has no place in an open and democratic South African society, based on human dignity, equality and freedom”.
This was the ad, which is set in a shopping mall as a man waits for his female partner:
“It’s dusk and you’re in unfamiliar territory, surrounded by predators hunting for fresh prey. And they found it. 50% off all shoes. They attack, lunging mercilessly. As you guard the 12 shopping bags, seated on a bench alongside the other men, you watch the feeding frenzy take place. This is Shoe Sale Country and you don’t belong here, man. This is not your habitat, so go where you belong in the V6 Amarok. Visit your Volkswagen dealership for great Amarok V6 offers today, man.”
One complaint – truly – was enough to send the ARB into a holier-than-thou frenzy … pretty much as it did earlier this year when it banned the “Big John” ad for Chicken Licken (also after a solitary complaint).
In this sort of atmosphere, I guarantee no more 1st For Women ads taking the mickey out of men will ever be contemplated, never mind flighted, because of the chilling hand of political correctness.
What is most disturbing about this is that the ARB took “guidance” from a similar decision from the ad regulatory authority in the UK … a country which regularly patrols the borders of ludicrousness with its silly restraints on health, safety and its commitments to political correctness.
That sort of regulation is why much of the advertising in the UK has lost its edge. Edgy will get you into trouble with the thoughtpolice.
I am not saying I would have given the Amarok ad an Orchid, but I would like to know that there is space in our ad industry for that – and for ones where males can also be made fun of.
But I suppose I would say that, wouldn’t I?
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