Cannes Lions

Mutilated Words

IMPACT BBDO, Dubai / 28 TOO MANY / 2019

Case Film
Digital Proof JPG
Supporting Images






Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the harmful practice of cutting or removing the female genital organs. Globally 200 million women have been affected. In Egypt alone over 87% of women are victims of FGM, which makes it the highest rate in the world. 28tooMany, in partnership with Tadween, wanted to raise awareness about this unlawful practice, to help put an end to it. The objective was to spread awareness across the country with maximum impact and minimum budget.


We wanted to highlight the damage of FGM and show the hidden potential sewn up by every FGM procedure. We launched a poster campaign using handcrafted Arabic calligraphy and carefully chosen words, mutilated and stitched back together, just like the victims of FGM. The words reflect the physical, psychological and social damage. We used paper that mimicked the color and texture of skin, made from material that can’t be vandalized. We put the decision in people’s hands,

urging them to pull the thread. The words unfold to reveal a hidden letter that changes their entire meaning to reflect positivity and hope. Inhuman becomes human Pains becomes dreams Accept becomes Condemn Despair becomes Joy Cruel becomes Civilized Consent becomes Defiance With each word, we revealed a fact that educated people about FGM, and drove home our message: “Some things can’t be undone”, encouraging people to say No to this awful



The long-held practice has been passed down from one generation to the next since as far back as anyone can remember. Its prevalence among Egyptian society has made it commonplace, a normal and common practice. We had to adopt a technique which re-introduced the practice and challenged the perceptions of those who have been familiar with it all their lives. In order to do so, we had to clearly put the harmful transformative effects of FGM in the hands of our target, allowing them to realize the irreversible damage they cause when they decide to carry out the practice on their daughters.


We designed our words using traditional Arabic calligraphy that reflected traditional beliefs. We chose a classical script that feels organic and is easy to read to ensure the stitches stood out. The blood maroon letters, handcrafted with short lines and simple curves, were printed on paper that mimicked the colors and texture of skin, made of material that can’t be vandalized. We used real medical sutures to mutilate the words just like the ones used in FGM. We put the decision in

people’s hands. By pulling the thread to end FGM, we can open the hidden potential sewn up by every FGM procedure. Our campaign was launched on February 6th, the zero-tolerance day for FGM. They were seen across major hospitals and clinics in Egypt, generating maximum visibility and engagement. Major newspapers released our print advertisement as inserts at no cost to help escalate the fight against FGM.


On the 6th February, Zero-Tolerance day - over 100,000 people engaged with the campaign across Egypt in clinics and hospitals Awareness of the harmful effects of FGM increased in 10 folds as we saw an increase of inquiries and traffic up to 450% on our website.

Similar Campaigns

4 items

12 Dubai Lynx Awards
Zero Tolerance Ribbon


Zero Tolerance Ribbon

2019, 28 TOO MANY

(opens in a new tab)