UNWomen decided to do the opposite of what was expected from a women’s rights campaign. In response to a clerical ruling of men being allowed to beat their wives, we built the first anti-domestic violence campaign in the world that INVITED men to beat women. But at things they were good at.
We cleverly startled the viewer by using the double-meaning behind the term “beat,” transforming it from a violent, submissive suggestion to an empowered, inspiring one. The campaign showcased strong Pakistani women with the script not only building on their strength, but cleverly relating it to various forms of abuse. A famous singer challenges verbal abuse, saying “Beat with me your voice”; a marathon winner challenges physical abuse saying “Beat me with your feet”. And so on.
We had discovered a study conducted by the government claiming that 34% of Pakistani men thought it’s okay to beat women, but more surprisingly 42% of women thought the same, thus the challenge to not only talk to the men but also the women. Throughout media, TV plays, ads, and films, the role of women is limited to the stereotypes where she’s the incapable, powerless victim. Anti-domestic violence campaigns in Pakistan made the woman feel weaker, further adding to the problem. This was the first time the scenario had been flipped to represent the Pakistani woman as a strong, empowered achiever who is able enough to challenge a man rather than be a submissive, weaker person she’s often made to believe.
We launched with a film during the International-Week-of-Elimination-of-Violence-Against-Women, following it with personal stories of these women and their achievements. Strategically placed posters were spread through major cities; for e.g. track star Naseem Hameed's poster went up next to a running track challenging men to beat her record time. Activation components were set up in parks. A shoebox crafted for men’s running shoes carried the same challenge, asking men to “Beat me with these shoes." A similar activity was set up as a squash tournament, in which a female squash star disguised as a boy defeated every man that volunteered to play against her.
With a $0 media budget, the video racked up 2 million organic views in the first week alone(i), 296 million earned impressions(ii) and an estimated $118 million in earned media. Celebrities, talk show hosts and parliamentarians - both men and women - took up the issue. The topic of violence against women started trending in Pakistan(iii), while also being showcased on prominent global media, contributing to domestic pressure. The Pakistani government has worked in parallel to set up the largest violence against women centre in South Asia, and implemented a new women protection law (iv) The conversation became viral and we have now noticed a clear cultural mind-shift: portrayal of women in the media has started to change from weak to powerful.
#BeatMe has been selected as one of the WARC world's best 100 marketing campaigns of 2018, based on performance in strategy and effectiveness competitions.