MRM and Craft worked with UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, to launch the Shadow Pandemic public awareness campaign, with support from Getty Images, focusing on the global increase in domestic violence amid the COVID-19 health crisis.
The Shadow Pandemic public service announcement is a sixty-second film narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Kate Winslet, who has championed many humanitarian causes. The film highlights the alarming upsurge in domestic violence during COVID-19, and delivers a vital message urging people to act to support women if they know or suspect someone is experiencing violence.
The Shadow Pandemic film features footage from homes all over the world, shot by creative professionals in 14 countries. Created by MRM and produced by Craft, the film begins with seemingly innocuous and familiar domestic scenes in different homes around the world. When coupled with an evocative music track and voiceover, it soon reveals a starkly different picture. The film concludes with three clear calls to action for individuals to help address the pandemic of violence against women. In addition to the PSA, the campaign includes social media assets giving key advice from shelters, helplines, domestic violence organizations and police departments across a variety of the UN’s Member States.
Michael Roth, Chairman and CEO of IPG is a Vice Chairman of the Unstereotype Alliance, convened by UN Women. Violence against women and girls is fueled by discrimination and harmful gender stereotypes that the Unstereotype Alliance works to eradicate from all advertising and media content. Roth noted “it’s a proud moment when the power of advertising is used not just to build awareness of a critical issue but also to empower people to do something about it, as this execution from MRM, Craft and Getty Images does so well. It’s also a proud moment when the industry comes together as members of the UN Women Unstereotype Alliance have done to tackle the global domestic violence crisis, and that’s one of the reasons IPG remains committed to the Alliance,” he continued.
While some countries are beginning to reopen, billions of people are still estimated to be sheltering at home. When households are placed under the increased strains that come from security, health and money worries, and cramped and confined living conditions, levels of domestic violence spike. Government authorities, women’s rights activists and civil society partners across the world are reporting significantly increased calls for help to domestic violence helplines and heightened demand for emergency shelter.
“Even before the pandemic, violence against women was one of the most widespread violations of human rights,” noted Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. “Since lockdown restrictions, domestic violence has multiplied, spreading across the world in a shadow pandemic. This is a critical time for action,” she continued.