J. Walter Thompson Beirut has landed a prestigious Silver Lion in the PR category at Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, for their campaign for RDFL (The Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering), 'Young Bride', which accelerated action against child marriage in the country by running a provoking social PR stunt.
The PR category at Cannes Lions recognises original thinking, with a strategy rooted in earned media, that influences opinion in order to drive change.
Tackling the issue of child brides from an entirely new perspective, the 'Young Bride' campaign prompted the Lebanese nation into realising that a proposed new law raising the legal age of marriage to 18, had still not been passed by Parliament.
Fake social media accounts promoting a matchmaking service for underage brides, Young 3arous, kicked off the stunt, driving interested parties to its website, from where actors then answered phone calls and took orders for the young brides profiled. For people unfamiliar with e-commerce, the matchmaking service offered its child bride assistance in a mall.
Lebanese citizens, activists and influencers quickly reacted, calling on authorities to shut down the service, likening the practice to human trafficking. The nation’s outrage was immediately covered by local and international media. More than 6 million people engaged with the campaign’s integrated efforts, putting pressure on the new government to review the draft law raising the legal age of marriage.
Commenting on the campaign, Hayat Mirshad, head of communications and campaigning at RDFL said: “Young girls in Lebanon are being married off every day in an age-old custom that the current Lebanese law does not criminalise. Through the campaign’s efforts, the Lebanese population came to view child marriage in the same light as human trafficking, which globally, is considered a crime. Underage marriage is the worst type of violence threatening young girls in Lebanon today and we would like to thank everyone who reacted to the campaign, supporting our efforts to get the draft new law back in front of Parliament for a hearing.”
“Young Bride” is part of J. Walter Thompson Beirut’s ongoing partnership with RDFL through the platform it developed for the NGO, #NotBefore18. Long-awaited parliamentary elections in the country had stalled previous efforts to see the proposed new law ratified.
Tarek Haddad, managing director of J. Walter Thompson Beirut added, “We are very proud that the agency is able to play its part in moving the needle of public opinion on such an important societal issue in our country. By seeing things differently, the agency’s work has propelled RDFL one step closer to its goal of ending child marriage in Lebanon. We are equally proud that those achievements were recognised tonight by the global communications industry at Cannes Lions.”
You can watch a case study of the campaign here