|Product / Service||ANTI-DOWRY|
|Category||G01. Grand Prix for good|
|Entrant||BBDO PAKISTAN Lahore, PAKISTAN|
|Idea Creation||BBDO PAKISTAN Lahore, PAKISTAN|
|Media Placement||BBDO PAKISTAN Lahore, PAKISTAN|
|PR||MINT PR Lahore, PAKISTAN|
|Additional Company||UN WOMEN Islamabad, PAKISTAN|
UN Women Pakistan is dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Our brief was to address and start a conversation around a culturally engrained yet infrequently discussed social ill: the forced dowry practise. We had very little budget and so had to rely on not only a guerrilla activity, but also on user-generated content to make our campaign successful. The objective of the campaign was twofold: 1. To bring the topic of dowry back into the conversation, to raise awareness around how damaging it is a social ill, and how to create a movement around the campaign that rejected this practise. 2. To bring about a change in social behaviour in which asking for dowry was considered an insult to one's self-respect: something that the Pakistani man holds most dear.
In South Asia, 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 in 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.
Morning shows on broadcast and digital in Pakistan are highly popular. Occasionally, these shows will feature an actual wedding taking place live 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: a henna stamp on a palm that people could hold up defiantly, one that said "Stop dowrymongering”.
With very limited budget, we knew that we would need to go guerrilla for this campaign. We first strategised to use as "billboards" the most common visual element in Pakistan during the wedding season: the henna patterns that women wear on their hands. A special henna stamp would be launched with a message defying "dowrymongering". In order to launch this stamp and to get the news out, we then strategised to hijack the popular custom of staging weddings on morning shows, thus gaining free media coverage.
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 crazed fans. Ali then released a short video on his social channel and announced that he would indeed be getting married, but 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 this opportunity to explain the campaign. We then introduced our campaign henna stamp and slogan: "Stop Dowrymongering" on the same platform.
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.