Cannes Lions

The Redactivists

OGILVY & MATHER HONG KONG, Hong Kong / AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL / 2017

Awards:

1 Bronze Cannes Lions
1 Shortlisted Cannes Lions

Overview

Entries

Credits

Overview

Description

In October 2016, five Hong Kong booksellers were abducted for selling controversial books. Only 4 have returned.

To prevent this kind of oppression, we needed to get Hong Kong behind freedom of expression.

So we did the unthinkable, publishing our own controversial literature and selling it.

With one small difference, it was all redacted. We partnered with artists and students to manually redact over 1000 books, creating protest art pieces, which also went on sale.

Typographic posters of Basic Law article 27, which protects expression, were dissected to reveal voices of dissent – including booksellers and Edward Snowden.

We even censored the Hong Kong Free Press website for a day, all of which gave people a chilling reminder of what could happen should freedom of expression vanish.

Every freedom needs a fighter, and Hong Kong has Amnesty International.

Execution

We created the Amnesty Bookstore, stocked with our own unique redacted books.

The bookstore was located in Lan Kwai Fong, the epicentre of Hong Kong’s social scene, drawing a crowd daily through its location. Inside the store, the posters and collateral drew people into the concept and helped entrench the message.

The posters also appeared at several other Amnesty events themed around freedom of expression.

Our digital media spread across Amnesty and its many supporters and we even redacted the entire Hong Kong Free Press website for a day, leaving 3.5 million readers angered, but galvanised in their support of a cause they now fully understood the power of.

Outcome

The bookstore sold out in two days, putting over 1000 pieces of branded protest art into the homes of passionate Hong Kongers. Through this and other endeavours, including selling limited edition art from Vhils, Shephard Fairey and more, the campaign raised over a million dollars in total.

What’s more, we got Hong Kong behind Amnesty in previously unheard of numbers.

The redaction of Hong Kong Free Press reached over 3.5 million people (half the population of Hong Kong) and the Reddit thread for the campaign is in the top ten most popular posts of all time, only slightly behind the world famous Umbrella Revolution of 2015.

But most importantly, we reminded people that the censorship remains as strong as ever, and that everyone needed Amnesty’s help to keep fighting it.

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