Workshop: Case Study - Body Shop helps Refuge raise £120k

Francois Le Goff


An awareness-raising campaign called 'Don't ignore it', which was launched a year ago by domestic violence charity Refuge, has recently entered its third phase. The campaign, which was largely paid for by the charity's partners, raised £120,000 that will fund a new website, an outreach service and fundraising software.


Refuge provides support services to women from all cultural backgrounds who are victims of domestic violence. Refuge's services include emergency accommodation, a 24-hour freephone helpline and outreach services for those who live at home or want to move into a new community.

The charity also spends a fair amount of time running advertising campaigns to raise awareness of the problem. It values its education work highly, repeatedly arguing that domestic violence can only be challenged once the public starts seeing it as a crime rather than a private issue.

In September 2003, Refuge partnered with The Body Shop, The Sun newspaper and advertising agency McCann-Erickson to kick off 'Don't ignore it', a major campaign stressing that everyone has a duty to prevent domestic violence.

In a survey by The Body Shop last year, one in three people said they had witnessed a person being verbally or physically abused by their partner during a social occasion.

How it worked

A cinema advert developed by McCann-Erickson was broadcast during the first month of the campaign. The short film featured a woman being abused by her partner while dining in a restaurant with a group of friends who completely ignored the argument.

The agency offered its services for free as part of its '1,000 voices, 100 years' social responsibility campaign, which aimed to run pro bono advertising to mark the company's centenary. Cinema advertising space was donated by media owners Pearl and Dean and Carlton Screen.

The Body Shop helped Refuge to reach its core target audience by displaying leaflets about domestic violence in 300 stores for a year. The beauty retailer also sold pin badges for £1, of which 75p went to the charity, and launched a nationwide mobile phone recycling initiative that aimed to give £2.75 to Refuge for each phone collected.

The cinema advert was followed by a poster campaign running from January to March this year depicting three different scenes of domestic violence.

Part of The Sun's support for the campaign involved publishing the story of three women, Victoria, Maria and Shelia, who told of their experience of domestic violence.

With a total of 17 pages in September 2003, the newspaper's editorial coverage helped Refuge to establish the campaign in the public's mind.

One of the posters, showing a violent man at a wedding party, was re-run in the London Underground in August because of its seasonal aspect.

The cinema advert was also repeated last month.


The real-life stories published in The Sun gave many women the strength to pick up the phone to talk about their own experiences. In the few months that followed the campaign launch, the number of calls to the charity helpline increased by 49 per cent and hits to its website doubled.

Because media owners covered most of the cost of the cinema advert, Refuge only spent £12,000 on production, whereas it would have normally had to pay £500,000.

The Body Shop partnership raised £120,000 over the year - double the charity's target of £60,000.

Part of the money raised through 'Don't ignore it' will be used to fund Refuge's new website.

Launched last week, the site now includes an information point for children who witness domestic violence, and a 'hide the site' button that removes all Refuge branding, enabling users to use it inconspicuously.

The rest of the money will fund the charity's outreach project for women from ethnic minorities, and the purchase of Raiser's Edge software.

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