The Pakistani bride is known to wear an elaborate wedding outfit: bright, colorful, heavily embroidered dresses combined with flashy jewelery. Every year, the bridal-wear fashion industry in Pakistan hosts large events in which new styles are revealed for that year. These shows are typically attended by local celebrities.
This year, our idea was to hijack the country's largest bridal-wear fashion show by collaborating with the nation's best known fashion designer and by introducing a new kind of bridal gown that represents the sad state of affairs in Pakistan.
In collaboration with the nation's best known bridalwear artist - Ali Xeeshan, we meticulously designed a new kind of a bridal outfit: one that symbolizes the trade-off that takes place when a girl is married young and is deprived of her right to an education, and revealed it on the bridal fashion industry's biggest night.
As the showstopper of the night, amidst bejewelled adult brides in elaborate gowns, and with the nation's top fashion bloggers recording, out walked on the ramp a little girl wearing a Pakistani schoolgirl's uniform embellished with beautiful traditional bridal motifs.
The Bridal Uniform had been created by merging traditional wedding outfit embroidery patterns with a common government school girl's uniform.
The stunt was then followed up by a print piece in a local fashion magazine, and instructional posters printed for on-ground NGOs to showcase in villages.
The shocking stunt went viral and generated almost 1 billion social and news-media impressions, more than any campaign for this cause has ever had in the country.
The topic of child marriages started trending, and both the international and local press started reporting on it. A sitting senator of parliament took note and a bill proposing to raise the legal marriage age to 18 has now been sent to the Islamic Council of Pakistan. The same senator has acknowledged the work of this campaign in the efforts to pass the bill.
The Bridal Uniform project has also made an appearance on catwalks in Berlin and Los Angeles, and has been adopted by on-ground local NGOs to educate villagers on the importance of keeping girls in schools.
To generate maximum PR around a culturally sensitive subject, we came up with a highly disruptive idea that would produce not only awareness but would bring about real action on the part of the government.
Our media approach was to hijack a large scale event and to relay our message through the medium of fashion design.
Our goal was to maximize earned media through news coverage and bloggers commenting on our project, both of which we achieved.
Insights, Strategy and the Idea
By disrupting a platform like the Bridal Couture Week, where brides are meant to be celebrated, we were able to exemplify the irony of condoning such practices by asking the important question, if all brides should be celebrated.
We also managed to piggyback on the media wave that followed the event, completely hijacking the conversation around it.
The stunt was then followed by on-ground educational sessions that addressed the issue where it truly made a difference.
The campaign targeted people on two levels. Through the stunt, we first targeted the influencers and media personnel who could start a conversation that built pressure to involve policymakers. And second, through on-ground sessions, directly addressing the masses where these practices were widely prevalent.