Since 2004, 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 not only address pilots directly and create dialogue, but also raise awareness globally of this otherwise ignored human-rights issue.
Describe how the promotion developed from concept to implementation
We decided 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 directly to an operator's screen, thereby engaging them in a direct dialogue. To raise awareness, the campaign - part of French artist JR's Inside Out movement - was put online with the hashtag #NotABugSplat and a website with information about drone strikes.
The poster was also designed to be photographed by mapping satellites.
Describe the success of the promotion with both client and consumer including some quantifiable results
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 USA have also picked up the campaign. And a new US Government Accountability report indicates that negative publicity is now affecting pilot morale.
Explain why the method of promotion was most relevant to the product or service
Drone operators sitting thousands of miles away rely on images captured from a drone or satellite camera to monitor ground activity. To them, from that far above, most humans appear as tiny insects scurrying around - hence the military phrase 'Bug Splats' to describe casualties. Imagine the reaction of a pilot when on their screen, it's not a bug but a giant face of a child staring back at them from the ground, engaging them directly.
The UK Guardian described it best: 'It has the power to startle...and perhaps even render (the pilot) incapable of using his weapon afterwards.'