TBWA\BELGIUM, Brussels / BELGIAN ENTERTAINMENT ASSOCIATION / 2018
In Belgium all movies are subtitled and never dubbed. So when someone illegally downloads a movie, he also downloads the corresponding subtitle file to add the subtitle file to the movie. The subtitles are fan-made text files that anyone can edit and improve. But if anyone can change the subtitles, so can we.
We uploaded ‘Pirate Subtitles’: subtitles files in which we intentionally created incorrect dialogues. To make sure the downloaders would use our subtitle files, we created a bot that gave our files high ratings and top ranking, so they were constantly on top of the list.
Suddenly it seemed like Samuel L. Jackson, Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek and other Hollywood stars told the viewer he’s watching an illegally downloaded movie, and that he is now stuck with bad subtitles. And they pointed out that there are many legal alternatives nowadays.
During the Christmas holidays our Pirate Subtitles were downloaded up to 10.253 times.
Then, we sent our press release.
The story was widely picked up by all national Belgian media like De Standaard, VRT.NWS, Q-Music, De Morgen, Het Laatste Nieuws, and many more.
We sparked a debate on TV, and director Michael R. Roskam could explain the problem in ‘De Afspraak’.
The campaign became a hot topic on social media and in relevant online communities like TorrentFreak, Reddit and Tweakers.net calling it funny and brilliant.
A few weeks later our client reached an agreement with the biggest telecom operators in Belgium - Telenet, VOO and Proximus - to block up to 400 pirate websites.