We went viral overnight around the world. Thousands of tweets, dozens of blogs, and massive coverage in the world press spread awareness rapidly. 104 million impressions in the news and 11 million impressions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram helped us gain $2,000,000+ in earned media.
The news was tweeted by members of National Assembly of Pakistan, who have raised the concern of drone strikes with the International Court of Justice. Rights activists in Yemen and the USA also picked up the campaign for their protests. And a new US Government Accountability report indicates that negative publicity is now affecting pilot morale.
The idea was so powerful that it took only one execution to spread awareness of this campaign globally. But the execution depended entirely on media placement. Even in the face of real danger, we wanted the real thing: the Northwest province region of Pakistan has been bombed repeatedly for the last decade by Predator drones, and is therefore highly volatile and
Planning began almost a year before we managed to get in to the province and - with the help of local villagers - install the poster in an area that had seen drone activity. An unmanned aerial device photographed the poster, which was then uploaded to a website, from where it was picked up by the global press, bloggers, influencers and government policy makers.
Insights, Strategy and the Idea
Drone strikes in Pakistan have killed an estimated 3500+ people, a disturbing percentage of which have been innocent civilians. Including more than 200 children. The Foundation for Fundamental Rights has been working to raise awareness of this crisis. Drone operators routinely describe their casualties as 'Bug Splats' since viewing a human from far above gives
the sense of an insect being crushed.
Our strategy was to speak directly to drone operators. A large-scale portrait of a child affected by an attack was laid on the ground facing up in the heavily bombed area of NorthWestern Pakistan, so a drone camera could capture and transmit it to an operator's screen, thereby engaging them in a direct dialogue. The campaign - part of French artist JR's Inside Out movement - was put online with the hashtag #NotABugSplat and an informational website. The poster was also designed to be captured by mapping satellites.