Cannes Lions


FOXP2, Johannesburg / FIRST FOR WOMEN / 2020


2 Shortlisted Cannes Lions
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First for Women (FFW) is South Africa's only insurance specifically designed for women. FFW’s greater purpose lies in championing women related issues. The FFW Foundation was established in 2005 to support women affected by Gender Based Violence (GBV). - an online platform that connects women in need of help with organisations that can provide help - was launched in 2017 by the Foundation. Our brief was to position FFW, through the FFW Foundation, as a leader in the fight against women abuse during the annual #16DaysOfActivism against GBV. We also needed to raise awareness of FFW’s platform, as well as stand in solidarity against GBV. The campaign objectives were: 1) Raise awareness about GBV. 2) Increase pledges on 3) Create impact through earned PR coverage 4) Position FFW as a leader in the fight against GBV. 5) Build on the sustainability of the FFW Foundation.


GBV has become so pervasive, the numbers so overwhelming, we've begun to turn a blind eye. Leaving what happens in the dark, to stay in the dark. For 16 days of activism, 1st For Women brought it into the light, one woman at a time... #16DaysOfLight saw an all-woman crew travel the country (with extreme security protection), to project haunting tributes onto some of the darkest (and most dangerous) places in South Africa - the actual murder scenes of women – to tell the stories that had been left behind. Each night for 16 nights, we shone a harrowing tribute – written in light – to the woman that died there. Each of those tributes became haunting films that gave face and place to the anonymous numbers. Turning each murder scene from a defeat for women into a victory in the fight against GBV.


As the pervasiveness of GBV in SA has led to desensitization to stats and news headlines, how could we encourage people to actively make a difference? We needed to make GBV more personal by overcoming ‘optimism bias’ (‘it happens, but won’t happen to me’). But could we prove this without resorting to stats the nation has become so good at turning a blind eye to? Research proves that showing a perceived similarity to a narrator reduces optimism bias. We didn’t need stats. We needed poignant, personal stories to elicit an emotionally raw response to get people to notice the dark effects of GBV and drive the message that you/someone you care about could be next - unless we do something about it. Then we needed to amplify this emotion to ensure that this message landed, one story at a time, to move people en masse to create change at


Before we could honour our 16 fallen women, we first had to choose 16 victims, out of thousands of women that are murdered in SA every year. Research their stories. Visit their communities. Meet their families. And then write tributes to them that both honored their lives, and told their stories in a way the country couldn't ignore. Then, night after night for 16 nights in a row, a small all-women crew (sometimes accompanied by heavy security) criss-crossed the country, projecting our tributes, in light, onto some of SA's darkest, most dangerous places - the actual locations of their murders. The filmed tributes were broadcast across the country and our drive to shine a light on GBV was strategically amplified through a highly integrated omnichannel media approach, ultimately giving viewers the power to be a beacon of light by allowing them to pledge - or find - help at


Our omnichannel media approach ultimately engineered a combined reach of 41.5 million. 4400 hours of video were watched. We secured over R5,4 million in earned PR. Even the Government and UN Women pledged to work with 1st For Women to continue the fight - a pledge that we projected onto Africa’s tallest building, turning #16DaysOfLight into #365DaysOfLight.

But we designed the campaign to elicit action, not just buzz, by driving people to pledge - or find - help at, and it paid off! In just 16 days,’s performance increased drastically with visitors increasing by 2000% and pledges increasing by 456% since October 2019.

Impressive numbers indeed. But the only number that really matters? Over the 16 day campaign period, 147 women reached out from the dark and found real, life-saving help. Which just goes to show what a little light can do in a world of darkness.

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