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Turn To Us

Turn To Us | Refuge | McCann
Download Download JPG | 3530x2502px
Industry: Public interest & Non-profit
Market:United Kingdom
Style: Minimalism
Describe any restrictions or regulations regarding Health & Wellness communications in your country/region including:

Other than respecting the confidentiality of those women who have contacted Refuge, and remaining mindful of a client censure that we should not feature graphic images of abused women, there are no specific regulatory or governmental restrictions pertaining to this work.

Health & Wellness work must demonstrate how it meets the criteria 'life-changing creativity'. Why is your work relevant for Health & Wellness?

Our work directs vulnerable women to UK charity Refuge and connects them directly to the range of life-changing and life-saving services provided, including: safe houses, health support services, health education, community centres and counselling. It raises public awareness of domestic abuse in its many forms and appeals to fundraisers.


Every week in the UK, two women are killed by abusive partners. Incidences of abuse increase by over 30% during the Christmas period. Sadly, a lot of abuse goes unreported, remaining hidden behind closed doors. Refuge is a UK charity providing safe houses and support for women and children. Our brief was to reach out to vulnerable women at Christmas and give them somewhere to turn to.

Describe the creative idea

We created ‘TURN TO US’ – a campaign of carefully crafted ‘reversible poems’ that hid the ugly truth of abuse in relationships, particularly at Christmas. Read from top to bottom, the poems present seemingly happy, loving relationships. But when the very same lines of verse are read in reverse order, the beautiful words become brutal, revealing the hidden horrors of abuse. The poems literally turn, dramatizing the both the turning points in relationships and the duplicity of abusive partners (what client describes as ‘Jekyll and Hyde behaviours’). The words help women recognise abuse in its many forms and reach out to them with an unequivocal call to action: ‘If your partner turns on you, turn to us.’

Describe the strategy

Insight: Abusive relationships don’t start out bad. At some point they turn. We created an interactive series of executions for mobile platforms that dramatised these turning points and gave women somewhere to turn to. Police data suggests that up to 800,000 victims of abuse in 2017 did not come forward (Office of National Statistics). We knew that our target audience was often fearful of reporting abuse or, in many cases, did not recognise that their relationship was an abusive one. The mobile platform had two immediate benefits: (1) It provided a seamless and original mechanism for women to directly interact with the reverse poems (by physically turning their phones), enhancing the impact of the creative idea; (2) With one touch, iwe linked women directly to the domestic abuse helpline.

Describe the execution

Our idea for mobile utilised the platform’s Motion and Orientation capability in a seamless way that was relevant to our campaign message. We created three dedicated URL’s that linked to three Christmas poems. These links were seeded on Refuge’s social channels over the 4-week festive period, and shared by their network of influencers (combined reach 4.4million). The viewer reads a seemingly harmonious festive poem from top to bottom and is then prompted to turn their mobile phone 180 degrees. The very same lines of verse are then automatically reordered in reverse, revealing the hidden horrors of abuse. A prominent call button linked vulnerable women directly to the domestic abuse helpline. For security, the execution incorporated an ‘escape’ feature that made the poems quickly disappear from the mobile screen, should any woman be interrupted by an abusive partner.

List the results

In the 4-week campaign period, 27,584 women contacted Refuge. The December launch generated an uplift of 2,011% in website traffic. The poems achieved over 1.25 billion impressions with a reach of over 500 million, resulting in earned media equivalent in excess of £200,000 (campaign budget was less than £10,000). Our timing was perfect. London Mayor Sanjid Javid cited the Christmas Poems in his renewed call to change domestic abuse legislation in the UK – something Refuge had been campaigning for. These changes were implemented just weeks after he shared the work. Our work had played a small but timely part in raising awareness and inspiring change.
Production Company:
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Shortlist Health & Wellness
Health Services & Facilities
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