We hijacked a well known broadcast segment to announce our campaign, which further led to a second level of brand experience in terms of a personal application of our campaign message.
In the Indian subcontinent, forced dowry is a practice in which the groom's family coerces the bride's family to pay the groom in material goods. Failure to match this expectation frequently results thousands of brides being victimised through domestic violence and in many cases, even leading to death through murder or suicide.
In Pakistan, the custom is practised by all classes, and national laws against it have been unable to stop people from continuing to pressure women to submit. UN Women's goal was to create awareness around the evils of this practice by starting a national movement against it, and expose it for the stigma it is.
Describe the creative idea.
Morning shows on broadcast and digital in Pakistan are highly popular. Every once in a while, a morning show will feature an actual wedding taking place in the studio. Our idea revolved around hijacking this platform and introducing the mystery bride of a celebrity as not a woman, but material goods that are often demanded in dowry.
Once the show was hijacked, we introduced the symbol of our campaign: an insulting word we invented to identify dowry-demanders as. The act would hereon be known as "Dowrymongering."
Describe the strategy
From the start, we knew that simply reminding men of the law against forced dowry would not be enough. We had to dig deeper, and shake a sense of self respect. For the Pakistani man, his honor is his most important asset, and strategically we decided to aim for a message that would connect with the consequence of losing self respect than of breaking the law.
Our target audience was not only men, but parents of grooms-to-be, who usually demand dowry under pressure from society. Our strategy then was to change that perception from one of respect to insult. Anybody demanding dowry from hereon would be known as a Dowrymongerer.
Describe the execution
Through a carefully planned PR campaign, we slowly introduced to the public the news that celebrity Ali Rehman was about to get married. Images of him wearing a ring were floated online, and were picked up by publications and fans. Ali then released a short video on his social channel and announced that he would indeed get married, and his mystery bride would be revealed on the Geo Morning Show.
Thousands tuned in to see the bride. But during the show, instead of a woman, the shocked audience were introduced to a collection of "dowry" material goods: jewelry, appliances, car keys, etc. Ali took the opportunity to explain the campaign.
We then introduced our campaign logo and slogan: "Stop Dowrymongering" on the same platform.
Describe the outcome
The campaign became the most trending topic in Pakistan during the wedding season. Thousands of women - and men - put up images of our symbol in protest. All the major national news channels carried the campaign on the news.
BBC called the campaign "Instrumental in sparking conversation around the issue." A total reach of 495,000,000 resulted in about $2,100,000 of earned media, all organic.
News reports started coming in of parents canceling weddings when anybody put up a demand of dowry. A cultural shift had started to take place.
The most impactful result for the campaign was a statement issued by the Islamic Council, by far the most influential body in Pakistan, that forced dowry is unIslamic. Several clerics joined in the condemnation, further making the act a matter of not only losing self-respect, but also classifying it as a sin.