Refuge is the national charity for women and children experiencing domestic violence. Refuge set up the world's first refuge in 1971, and is now the largest single provider of emergency accommodation. It also runs counselling services and community outreach projects, raises public awareness and campaigns for changes in the law on domestic violence.
The campaign has a media value of £2m, but the cash-strapped charity has benefited from the goodwill of several companies. The ad was created and distributed by McCann-Erickson and Universal McCann, and directed by Chris Hartwill of Ridley Scott Associates, who all gave their services for free. Screen time was donated by Pearl & Dean and Carlton Screen.
Refuge's cinema campaign is designed to tackle the hidden nature of domestic violence, and the tacit complicity of friends and family in ignoring or covering up the crime. In the 40-second ad, entitled 'Don't ignore it', a group of friends are in a restaurant when a public row develops between one couple. The group ignore the man's increasingly violent behaviour, as though nothing is happening. In the closing frames, the man hits his partner and she falls to the ground. The voice-over says, "some people may choose to ignore domestic violence, but at Refuge we don't". The 15-certificate spot has been screened in cinemas since Monday, and will run until 10 November. After that, the ads are provisionally set to appear on TV next January.
McCann-Erickson focused on the prevalence of domestic violence so people could re-appraise their responses to it.
"Our objective was to begin to set cultural change in motion," said Holly Maguire, account director at McCann-Erickson. "The ad was specifically created to stimulate the most powerful emotional responses of shock and anger and must engage, actively involve and educate, by talking directly and clearly to people trying to distance themselves from the issue."
The campaign aims to continue publicising the issue, and it has been given an additional boost by this year's Hitting Home series, a strand of BBC programming dedicated to domestic violence.
The Sun is also supporting the 'Don't ignore it' campaign, which is timed to coincide with a year-long in-store fundraising partnership with The Body Shop (Third Sector, 17 September).