The creative heads behind the ‘#BeatMe’ campaign on how it has helped change mindsets regarding violence against women.
The ‘#BeatMe’ campaign, an initiative by UN Women, and conceptualised and designed by BBDO, was announced as the winner of a Gold and Bronze Clio on September 12, 2017. Aurora spoke to Ali Rez, Regional Creative Director, BBDO, and Hiba Mohibullah, Creative Director, BBDO, to discuss how the campaign was conceptualised and executed.
AMBER ARSHAD: When was the ‘#BeatMe’ online video launched?
BBDO: The ‘#BeatMe’ video was launched on November 20th, 2016, during the International Week of Elimination of Violence Against Women. The campaign was later extended onto other mediums which included activation, print, posters and various other online platforms.
AA: Is this a global initiative by UN Women or exclusive only to Pakistan?
BBDO: The campaign was conceptualised, produced and executed locally but it was so successful that it went viral, and was covered by prominent international news media such as AJ Plus, BBC, DW, Gulf News, Le Figaro and The Huffington Post.
AA: What was the brief given to BBDO by UN Women and how was the journey of conceptualising and executing this campaign?
BBDO: Almost 90% of Pakistani women suffer some form of abuse; more than 42% of them believe that they are weak. The brief given to us was to raise awareness of domestic violence, make women feel empowered, and also to counter a proposed bill in Pakistan which stated that it was acceptable for “women to be beaten lightly”. So, we came up with the concept of ‘#BeatMe’, in which women asked “to be beaten” at things in which they excelled. Being a client with a vision, UN Women instantly approved the idea and from there it took a life of its own. Working with an almost non-existent budget, we approached Azad Film Company to develop the campaign; they took up the project, offering their services pro-bono. Everyone featured in the campaign also came on-board free of cost, simply because they believed in the message. Other production houses, such as The Videographers, also joined us pro-bono.
AA: How were the women chosen for the campaign?
BBDO: We featured Pakistani women who are challenging men to beat them at what they excel in. Meesha Shafi, a well-known singer challenges verbal abuse, saying “Beat with me your voice”; Naseem Hameed, dubbed the fastest woman in South Asia, challenges physical abuse, saying “Beat me with your feet.” The campaign also features Mehak Gul, a child chess prodigy; Razia Bano, a professional boxer from Lyari; Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to conquer Mount Everest; Sana Bucha, the resilient journalist who took on fanatics; Hajra Khan, Pakistan’s football team captain. We also selected an elderly agricultural worker from a village, a pregnant woman, and ended with Fiza Farhan, the UN Women Ambassador, proclaiming "I'm unbeatable!”
We cast a diverse group that represented different levels of mental and physical skills, as well as demographics. These weren’t just celebrities; they were women of substance with a specific purpose and skill set – every one of them UNbeatable.
AA: It is generally believed that domestic violence is a problem that mainly concerns the lower-income segment of Pakistan. Do you think a campaign driven by digital can reach this audience effectively?
BBDO: Our goal was to target influencers to start a conversation that will eventually bring about a change in mindset. Celebrities, talk show hosts and parliamentarians – both men and women – took up the issue. The subject of violence against women began trending in Pakistan, as well as on the global media. The Pakistani government has worked in parallel to set up the first Violence Against Women Centre and has also implemented a new law for the protection of women. UN Women’s campaign has inspired a large number of Pakistani women to stand up to abuse.
AA: How has the response to the campaign been so far? Were there any KPIs set?
BBDO: The conversation became viral and initiated a shift in the portrayal of women in the media from weak to powerful; other brands also followed suit. With a $0 media budget, the video racked up two million organic views in the first week alone, 296 million earned impressions and an estimated $118 million in earned media.
AA: Which awards has the campaign won so far?
BBDO: Till now, the campaign has won a Gold Clio, Bronze Clio, three Dubai Lynx, 15 MENA Cristals, 14 AdStars and four Tambuli Awards. It has also won in the ‘Best in Digital’ and ‘Best in CSR’ categories at the PAS Awards, and has been shortlisted twice at the Cannes Lions.
With a $0 media budget, the video racked up two million organic views in the first week alone, 296 million earned impressions and an estimated $118 million in earned media.
AA: What is the significance of winning the Clio Award? Is this the first time BBDO has won a Clio?
BBDO: The Clio Awards are one of the most prestigious advertising award shows in the world, with only three percent of all the entries receiving a statue and a mere one percent receiving the coveted Gold Clio. This is not the first time BBDO Pakistan has won a Clio; it became the first Pakistani agency to win a Gold Clio in 2015 for the ‘Not a Bug Splat’ campaign which also won two Silver and three Bronze Clios at the show. In addition to this, BBDO has won a Bronze and Silver Clio for Moltyfoam’s ‘The World’s First Billbed’ initiative as well. We are the only agency in Pakistan to have won a Clio until now.
AA: What impact do winning international awards have on the message and purpose of the initiative and how does it affect the ad industry of Pakistan?
BBDO: The message is amplified when showcased on international forums. It also inspires more people in the industry to want to produce great work. We’ve already seen a shift in the industry; mirroring the confidence of ‘#BeatMe’, we’ve seen campaigns like ‘#MeinPerfectHoon’ portray women as symbols of strength.