Cannes Lions

Oppression Offset


Case Film
Supporting Images
Case Film






Civil Rights Defenders (CRD) is a Swedish human rights organization focusing on preventing autocratization. CRD struggles with attention, despite Sweden being a democracy-loving country. In comparison to more well-known organizations with bigger media budgets working to fight war, famine, and disease, preventive work for democracy can easily be neglected – especially in Sweden, a country that has experienced peace and freedom for hundreds of years.

The brief was to create an idea that should drive awareness for CRD, and their work, and make people understand that threats against democracy are closer than they think.

Our objectives were to:

1. Earn attention. 

2. Increase awareness about CRD’s role and work to secure democracy around the world. 

3. Make Swedes aware of the globally declining democracy.


Every year Swedish tourists spend €164 million in autocratic countries, a fact unknown to the travelers themselves. The idea was to show people how they directly contribute to autocratic regimes through their choices of destinations. We created an interactive tool based on a unique algorithm that allowed everyone to calculate their own “Oppression Offset” – a new take on the more established carbon offset.

This campaign brought CRD’s work into focus and urged people to participate and make a real difference by calculating their offset. The offset went straight to CRD’s work for supporting democracy around the world. An integrated PR activation targeted travellers in social, through earned media and op-ed pieces.

A campaign hub hosted the digital tool and allowed travelers to input all their travel data and calculate their oppression. It was a true innovation that started a national debate in Sweden.


Swedes have become accustomed to carbon offset when traveling. But despite the concept of sustainability being extended to include human rights, the travel industry has not yet embraced the broadened definition. To bridge this gap, we created “Oppression Offset” - an interactive tool based on a unique algorithm.

The tool calculates the offset cost based on:

1. the length of the trip

2. Swedes’ average cost per day during trips abroad (based on the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth)

3. the country's VAT rate (data from PwC and Deloitte)

4. the country's level of autocracy (based on V-dem’s democracy index)

5. the number of travelers

We then used the data to target travelers in train stations, airports, and on travel websites, and through creative assets show the harsh reality of their chosen destinations, encouraging them to go to the website to calculate their own unique offset.


We launched the campaign just before Christmas, when Swedes most commonly travel abroad, to engage people when they were already thinking about traveling.

The story was spread on social media to get the conversation started. We reached out to media a week later, setting the stage for further discussions about the travel industry’s role and responsibility.

We then launched the full campaign by targeting travellers in train stations, airports, and on travel websites. The assets were fun and provocative enough to get people to photograph and share them online.

Then we challenged the travel industry even more with an opinion piece in the largest daily newspaper in Sweden, pointing out their responsibility and reaching over 6 million online readers.

The campaign generated a lot of debate in multiple newspapers and social media. The word “oppression offset” has now become an established word, used by national news independently from the campaign.


Oppression Offset created global coverage and became Civil Rights Defenders' most shared campaign ever.

- Total reach: 39.5 million people

- Earned reach: 29 million people

Thousands of visitors calculated their own offset for different trips. The engagement spread through both traditional and social media, from Instagram to global political magazines like Politico, and local travel magazines like Vagabond.

The campaign also increased interest in CRD as an organization.

- 96% more visitors to CRD’s website

- 148% increase in the share of search (compared to the previous quarter)

The new term and tool sparked a debate on how to make ethical choices as a traveler.

This led to negotiations between CRD and the industry organization on how the tool could be used by the industry going forward. Discussions are ongoing at the time of this submission.

Similar Campaigns

12 items

Oppression Offset


Oppression Offset


(opens in a new tab)