Cannes Lions

Fearful Girl

MULLENLOWE, Boston / CHANGE THE REF / 2019

Case Film
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Overview

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Overview

Background

While there has been a groundswell of activism around the gun violence issue, and 94% of Americans support some form of stricter gun control, no meaningful legislation has passed due to the NRA’s stranglehold on U.S. politicians. The only way change can truly be enacted is by changing the political landscape during an election cycle.

This brief was developed as part of the Fight Gunfire with Fire initiative, which seeks to empower students’ ideas in the fight against gun violence. The brief called for ideas that are simple, powerful, and actionable to effect real change around the gun issue. The goal was to execute ideas ahead of the mid-term election and influence Americans to vote for change.

After working with students from University of Alabama to craft their idea, we approached Change the Ref, founded by the parents of a Parkland victim, and found the perfect partner for the idea.

Idea

With a deluge of political messaging in the weeks before the election, the idea needed to be bold, emotional, and pointed to stand out.

By re-contextualizing an iconic statue that had already captured the nation’s attention, we leveraged built-in interest to garner media coverage. The guerilla-style approach and the direct involvement of the Olivers deepened the story.

Strategy

The Fearless Girl statue is a moving symbol of the power of girls and young women to shape our future, but the sad reality is that America’s youth can’t even go to school safely due our failure to effectively address the gun epidemic.

Our key message: She can’t be fearless if she is afraid to go to school.

We filmed and photographed the Olivers placing the bulletproof vest on the Fearless Girl statue in the early morning hours of November 2 and then immediately pushed those assets out to news outlets and influencers.

Execution

Early morning on November 2, 2018, in New York City, Manuel and Patricia Oliver placed a bulletproof vest on the Fearful Girl statue. With no permit, we had to act quickly and decisively. The vest stayed on her for about 2 hours before the police arrived.

There was no paid support behind the activation.

Outcome

#FearfulGirl garnered 353 million earned impressions.

#FearfulGirl helped the Olivers’ message reach a wider audience and was part of series of actions that propelled the brand further into the media spotlight.

The efforts of gun control activists also yielded a sea change in voter behavior specific to the issue. The Trace reported, “Democrats earning F ratings from the NRA for their views on gun laws prevailed not only in increasingly bluish swing states such as Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Colorado, but also in conservative strongholds like South Carolina and Kansas.”

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