Short List
Product / ServiceANTI-DOWRY
CategoryF04. Social Behaviour & Cultural Insight
Media Placement BBDO PAKISTAN Lahore, PAKISTAN
Additional Company UN WOMEN Islamabad, PAKISTAN


Name Company Position
Ali Rez BBDO Pakistan / Impact BBDO Regional Executive Creative Director
Hira Mohibullah BBDO Pakistan Creative Director
Huma Mobin BBDO Pakistan Writer
Ahmed Mustafa BBDO Pakistan Associate Creative Director
Assam Khalid BBDO Pakistan Creative Director
Khairaza Khan BBDO Pakistan Writer
Assam Khalid BBDO Pakistan Strategic Planning Director
Aamna Rahim BBDO Pakistan Associate Creative Director
Moiz Khan BBDO Pakistan Associate Creative Director
Ali Rez Impact BBDO / BBDO Pakistan Creative Director
Haroon Rashid BBDO Pakistan Art Director
Haseeb Akram BBDO Pakistan Art Director
Tazeen Asaad BBDO Pakistan Account Manager
Fatima Ansari BBDO Pakistan Writer
Ahmed Zafar BBDO Pakistan Designer
Maida Azmat Mint PR PR Co-ordinator
Alize Munir BBDO Pakistan Social Media Manager

Why is this work relevant for PR?

Through a carefully planned PR campaign, we led audiences to tune in to a well-known broadcast segment which traditionally showcased live weddings, and hijacked the show. We followed up with making public a self-applied henna stamp which communicated our message on human palms.


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 in thousands of brides being victimized through domestic violence and, in many cases, even leading to death through murder or suicide. In Pakistan, the custom is practiced 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 start a national movement against this custom, and give people tools to protest against it in order to drive legislative change.

Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)

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”.

Describe the strategy (30% of vote)

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.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

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.

List the results (30% of vote) – must include at least two of the following tiers:

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.

Please tell us about the social behaviour and/or cultural insights that inspired your campaign

Henna decorations are the very symbol of matrimonial celebration in South Asia. Every wedding season, millions of women paint their palms with henna ink. We decided to use this highly cultural device as a communication tool. To launch our message stamped in henna, we chose another cultural icon: the morning show that broadcasts live weddings, and hijacked it.