image for McCann rolls out powerful reversible poetry campaign for Refuge

McCann rolls out powerful reversible poetry campaign for Refuge

Published on Thursday, 17th January 2019, contributed by McCann

An intriguing and highly original campaign for the domestic violence charity Refuge by McCann Bristol appeared in press, TV, cinema, interactive radio, posters, and social media throughout the festive period and into early January.

Inspired by reversible poetry, each ad first conjures up a positively cosy picture of family life at Christmas. But, when invited to read each poem from the bottom line up, the full horror of life for a family living with domestic violence emerges. The call-to-action that runs across all media is ‘If your partner turns on you, turn to us’.

To date full-page ads have appeared in Woman’s Own, Marie Claire and Bella since December. Meanwhile two powerful TV adverts premiered on Christmas Day on Sky1 during James Cordon’s Carpool Karaoke. They were also screened at the Leicester Square Odeon and Haymarket Empire earlier this month.  

Award-winning director Steve Reeves of Another Film Company created the two powerful 60-second films shot on one continuous rolling film for TV and cinema. The camera starts low on the actors’ faces to capture the joy and excitement of Christmas, as the poem turns, the camera rolls back in and moves to position above the actors to heighten their vulnerability.

Maxine Peake, a long-standing supporter of Refuge, provides the voiceover for both films, which are rated 12A. Mistletoe will premiere on Christmas Day, featuring Grace Stotesbury, 23, in her first TV film role. Meanwhile Sasha Frost, 34, acts in Auld Lang Syne, which comes with an extra caution due to content of a distressing nature.  A radio advert featuring Maxine Peake also aired on Planet Rock and Heat Radio between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

This pro-bono campaign could not have broken at a better time, given the statistics. Even now, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.  Two women a week are killed at the hands of a partner or ex-partner in England and Wales. On average another three women a week commit suicide as a way of escape.

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said: “Domestic abuse is the biggest issue affecting women and children in this country today – it really is a life and death issue. Yet still too few women know how to spot the signs of domestic violence, realise that domestic abuse is a crime or know that Refuge is here to support them.  We want women to know that no matter what time of year, no one should suffer in silence and they should ‘turn’ to us for support.”

Jon Elsom, Group Creative Director of McCann Central said: “The amount of craft that has gone into writing these reversible poems and making the whole campaign is in tribute to the often life-saving work that Refuge undertakes every day. We hope that this campaign will show women and children affected by domestic abuse where to turn to.”

Refuge would like to thank everyone who has contributed to, supported and generously given their time to this amazing and innovative campaign. It will make an immeasurable difference to the women reached by the poems.

The campaign was created by Zane Radcliffe and Ken Sara of McCann Bristol. Post-production was by Craft London, Cherry Cherry and sound and audio by SNK. FleishmanHillard Fishburn and McCann provided PR for the campaign. Media was negotiated by Universal McCann across McCann’s Bristol and Birmingham offices. Everyone involved in the campaign has donated their services to Refuge free of charge.