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The Rotten Apples

The Rotten Apples | Zambezi | Zambezi
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basics
Industry: Internet sites & Services
Media:Design & Branding
Style: Minimalism
descriptioncnen
Synopsis
A third of women between the ages of 18 to 34 have been victim to sexual misconduct in the workplace, with the majority of those remaining silent. In late 2017, the Harvey Weinstein story broke. This was a watershed moment that uncovered decades of systemic sexual abuse within Hollywood. Each day after, more and more stories of abuse by different people came out. From this, our idea was to create a tool that would make ethical media consumption easier as well as drive awareness of just how pervasive sexual misconduct is in film and television. With increased awareness and conversation surrounding the subject, the hope is for a future of inclusivity and a workplace free of inequality and sexual harassment.
Strategy
We didn’t target a specific demographic or organization, nor was there a grandiose plan for press. It was simple. Because the controversy surrounding the issue had been so pervasive across all media, we knew that if our site caught on even a little, it had the potential to blow up. We proactively pitched an exclusive story to The New York Times, which broke the Weinstein scandal. We then shared it on our own channels. As in, the four creators’ own Facebook and Twitter feeds and it grew organically from there. The Rotten Apples is a classic example of the medium being the PR message. The digital tool itself was strong enough to carry its own water, all we needed to do was open the floodgates and the coverage would follow. The name itself, a play on Rotten Tomatoes, was a PR move intended to create immediate buzz, and it did.
Relevancy
The goal of the brief was to generate awareness for a digital tool that highlights the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct in film and television. With increased awareness and conversation surrounding the subject, the hope is for a future of inclusivity and a workplace free of inequality. We launched and then spread the word about it organically, through a simple public relations plan triggered by negotiating an exclusive story with The New York Times. This snowballed into wider coverage with over 100 media outlets. The word was out within a matter of hours.
Outcome
With no money spent on media, the website generated roughly 5.7 billion impressions ($64 million in earned media) including 4 million searches on the site alone. Each visitor, on average, spent an astounding 14 minutes and 10 seconds. The traffic is in large part owed to the 200+ articles about it by virtually every major outlet including The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Buzzfeed, Slate, GQ, Vice, Complex, Mashable, The New Yorker and more. The site was also the subject of various news programming like CNN, HLN, The Glenn Beck Show, CBS Sunday Morning, CBC, NPR’s The Frame, PBS, etc. Furthermore, it’s sparked an intense public discussion over whether or not we can separate art from the artist with more than 72,000 unique social interactions. In no way is the “Rotten” classification meant to be a condemnation of a project–often, victims of sexual abuse and harassment worked on these these projects and they should not be further impacted–rather it is meant to inform viewers and give them a new lens with which to view a project.
Execution
The Weinstein scandal broke on October 5th, 2017, with The New York Times leading the story. Timing was important, as we needed enough time to pass after the initial story broke, to allow for more individuals to share their #MeToo stories. After Time Magazine proclaimed the women of the #MeToo movement as “Person of The Year” on December 8th–we felt that our database was extensive enough to launch the site. On December 11th, The Rotten Apples website launched. Once that story went live, and after sharing it on the personal social channels of the site’s four creators’–combined they have 4,617 Facebook friends–the floodgates opened leading to more than 200 features by publications such as GQ, Vanity Fair, Buzzfeed, Slate, Washington Post, Vice, Complex, Mashable, The New Yorker and the list goes on.
CampaignDescription
Vanity Fair described it as “a Rotten Tomatoes with a post-Weinstein twist.” What it is, is a very simple digital tool designed to let consumers know whether or not a film or television show they’re interested in is tied to someone with allegations of sexual misconduct. By connecting reputable third party articles to an open source database similar to IMDB, users simply type in the name of a film or television show and the site tells them whether a project is “Rotten” or “Fresh”. If the query yields a “Rotten” result, it lists out who the allegations are tied to and provides links to the reputable third party articles where users can click to learn more. Because the system is updated to reflect what’s being reported in real time, the site also allows for users to provide missing names–with at least one credible source attached–or corrections.
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Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2018
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