We wanted to demonstrate the quick transition between admiring something very cute and feeling uncomfortable –perhaps threatened– by the idea that it could be gay. So, we chose turtles, so cute and innocent, to be our heroes in rubbing people’s prejudices in their faces.
The film was shot with 8 hidden cameras in an aquarium shop. The unaware turtle shoppers were told by the clerk that the turtle they just picked was gay. The reactions of people -right when they were admiring the cute creature- manifested the prejudice toward gays and LGBTIs in general. The resulting video was released on the official social channels of Amnesty International Turkey.
Our campaign was a quick hit on social media with participation of hundred thousands of people including journalists, celebrities and politicians. In just three hours, #gayturtle became a countrywide trending topic on Twitter and covered in prime time national news on its first day.
In just 5 days, the campaign obtained 167.924.000 earned media impressions worldwide, with no media budget. It was covered in more than 120 different news and media outlets globally and generated more than $1.7 Million worth of earned media value.
Gay Turtle ended up being the most effective campaign that was ever done by Amnesty International in Turkey with more than 35000% increase in online engagement scores vs. their yearlong average. As a result, the number of Amnesty International Turkey online supporters increased by 12% in 7 days.
And for the first time, homophobia became a discussion topic in Turkey’s history.
The conservative shift in Turkey made it nearly impossible to represent LGBTI people in mainstream media and marketing communications because of censorship policies.
With #gayturtle, we aimed to bypass this barrier and reach people directly with organic growth. By bringing so many voices together on our side, we made the subject visible on the mass media again and gave voice that LGBTI people have deserved for ages.
Homophobia is something so strong that it can make a person hate someone even if the only information they have is about their sexual orientation. It can make them quickly choose to hate even the ones they loved the most. We chose to base our creative route on this fact to deliver our message at the most basic level.
As studies showed that the rates of homophobia were extremely high, we had to target the whole nation regardless from the age, location or gender. In order to make people question their perceptions for the first time, we decided to use the power of surprise to underline how pointless is to discriminate –simply– anything. Homophobia was an absurd thing in itself and people had to face this truth in an undeniably absurd way. This helped us both provoke thought and increase the contagiousness of the idea on social platforms.