J. Walter Thompson Beirut Wins Silver Lion in PR for “Young Bride”
JWT Beirut’s moving stunt for RDFL accelerated action against child marriage in Lebanon
19 June 2019. Cannes. J. Walter Thompson Beirut landed a prestigious Silver Lion in the PR category tonight 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 realizing 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.”
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About J. Walter Thompson
J. Walter Thompson (JWT), a Wunderman Thompson company, has been reimagining the future for businesses for over 154 years. Headquartered in New York City, JWT is a true global network with more than 200 offices in over 90 countries, employing nearly 10,000 innovators and change agents. Known for our award-winning work and leading initiatives, JWT as the very first agency to air a TV commercial, the first to establish a global advertising presence, the first to rocket a candy bar into space, the first in the industry to hire a female copywriter, the first to create an amphibious prosthetic limb, and the very first to teach a computer to paint like Rembrandt. While we reimagine the future for our clients, we will continue to break new ground and revolutionize the power of our legacy through the campaigns that we create.
Founded 40 years ago, RDFL is one of the oldest organizations in Lebanon that works on defending women’s rights. The association has 6 branches all over Lebanon where it supports more than 400 women from different nationalities and backgrounds socially, psychologically and legally all year round, in addition to raising awareness, empowerment and advocating for women’s rights and gender equality.
Philippa Clayre, Head of Corporate Communications, J. Walter Thompson Middle East North Africa