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Campaign aims to increase awareness of sexual harassment and sexual violence

A new media campaign seeks to change people’s attitudes around sexual harassment and sexual violence in Ireland

No Excuses

The first ad (above) raises awareness of what’s meant by sexual violence and harassment - using five relatable scenes featuring groping, physical harassment, domestic violence all the way to a potential sexual assault.

 

A new advertising campaign from the Department of Justice and Equality called 'No Excuses' aims to increase the awareness of sexual harassment and sexual violence in everyday life. Created by advertising agency TBWA, it aims to bring about a change in long established societal behaviours and attitudes and activate bystanders with the aim of decreasing and preventing this violence.

The ads seek to help people recognise the many precursors to sexual harassment and sexual violence, and it is hoped that people will hold such behaviours and its precursors unacceptable. “Our brief to TBWA was to raise awareness of sexual harassment and sexual violence and to effect real and substantial change to people’s attitudes,” said the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD.

Des Creedon, creative director at TBWA\Dublin explains, “For us, the process of creating a campaign always begins with the simple insight. When we reflected on this issue, what rang most true for us was the idea that in Ireland, whenever we observe or encounter sexual violence and sexual harassment, we’re inclined to absent ourselves of any responsibility - or worse still, excuse behaviour that’s at best inexcusable.” 

Bringing this subject matter to life was an intricate and delicate process; which saw the discussion of a number of creative directions with stakeholders, who all shared an expert interest in the subject matter.

“In the end, for the purposes of raising awareness; fuelling a wider conversation and inciting change we liked the idea of a campaign that evolved, or unfolded the issue for our audiences. With this in mind, the agency designed a campaign made of three phases,” says Creedon. 

"Is this a problem?"

The first ad raises awareness of what’s meant by sexual violence and harassment - using five relatable scenes featuring groping, physical harassment, domestic violence all the way to a potential sexual assault. The relatability of these scenes is paramount, because they demonstrate how sexual harassment and violence easily coalesce. To help the viewer reflect on each scene, the voiceover for the ad, Stephen James Smith, simply asks: "Is this a problem?"

Does Ireland have a problem? A new campaign from the Department of Justice and Equality

Inciting societal change

“For meaningful change to happen,” head of account management, Paula Kelly explains, “we felt we needed to take another step to ignite a more impactful conversation around the issue. To do this we wanted Ireland to do more than just look at the ad, but for viewers to take a good look at themselves and their own behaviours.”

So TBWA\Dublin then relayed the scenes to a series of focus groups and recorded their reactions; the reasons they gave to explain the actions of the actors in each scene. This re-edited version became the basis of the second phase of broadcast.

“No Excuses” - Ireland’s responses to sexual harassment and sexual violence

A responsive campaign, powered by excuses

The third part of the campaign uses online to hold a mirror up to everyday behaviour in real time. While, in most cases, clients shy away from negative online commentary, in this case - where the ambition is to mirror how prevalent excusing sexual harassment and violence is, using this commentary was seen as a powerful way of addressing the issue.

The agency achieved this through social listening that used TBWA\Dublin’s proprietary data services to monitor the conversations around the ads, and then showcase them in specially designed banner ads and digital outdoor. 

As Cian Tormey, senior art director at TBWA/Dublin explains; “What excited us about this approach, was that by gathering all the comments made in response to the ads, and then applying them in this way, we were making the campaign truly responsive - reflecting Ireland’s attitudes to the issue in real time. That’s another first for us, and data use, here in Ireland.”

Together, these three phases combined to lay bare the unsettling reality of Ireland’s problem with sexual harassment and sexual violence - at every turn inviting social change with the line, “Let’s stop excusing sexual harassment and sexual violence.”

The Minister added, "I believe that this campaign is giving us all an opportunity to start a conversation about sexual behaviour, what is and what is not acceptable. We must stand together as a society that does not tolerate or remain silent on sexual harassment or sexual violence.’ 

For more information, visit gov.ie/noexcuses, or in an emergency call 999