Over the past few weeks there has been a lot of controversy surrounding #TheDress. My first thoughts on #TheDress were that it was a ridiculous thing to be trending on the Internet. My thoughts can be summed up by my tweet:
However, when I saw that the South African branch of the Salvation Army used #TheDress in a campaign against the abuse of women I was intrigued. The organization did a great job of taking a popular trend at the time and turning it into an educational campaign against abuse. Tables turned as the color of the dress was no longer an issue, but the visible black and blues on the models’ bodies became the center of attention. Here is one of their ads:
The Salvation Army is not the first organization to use social media to fuel a cause. In the past few years there have been other viral hashtags surrounding the issue of violence and sexual abuse, like #WhyIStayed. #WhyIStayed was a hashtag created as a response to the Ray Rice scandal, when a video surfaced of him hitting his then fiancé. The hashtag gained a lot more attention when DiGiorno made one of the most epic Twitter fails in recent history. They posted:
This was a fail because the hashtag was about relationship abuse and why individuals decided to stay with their partners. Later DiGiorno apologized with:
The activism surrounding relationship violence and sexual abuse does not end with hashtags and twitter controversies; film and print advertising have also fueled it. One of my favorite campaigns from NOMORE.org is their celebrity PSA’s. NOMORE.org managed to get many influential celebrities to read their message out loud to the public. The result being these PSA’s:
These PSA’s made a splash on both television and social media, with the voices of popular celebrities fueling a message against sexual assault and domestic abuse.
As a survivor of sexual assault I am ecstatic that marketers and advertisers have taken on the cause of opening the publics eyes and minds to such issues. While I still struggle to talk about my own experience, visuals such as these have made me feel more empowered than ever before. Such visuals can cause flashbacks or anxiety to survivors, but I think they are also very powerful.
These marketing and advertising campaigns open up a very important conversation. A conversation to help end domestic violence and sexual assault, not only on women, but all genders. Already sexual assault and domestic abuse are being talked about more than they have in the past, which is a step in the right direction.