#Exclusive: TBWA makes waves at Cannes Lions for 'Blame No More' campaign
Blame No More was created in an effort to bring more attention the rape crisis in South Africa. Through film, the aim was to highlight victim blaming as a big part of the problem.
We spoke with Jeffrey Tyser and Nikki Garrett, creative directors at TBWA, to find out more about the campaign and their achievements…
Congratulations on your achievement! How are you feeling about it?
Jeff: Thanks so much. Every year Cannes tends to leave me feeling jealous, inadequate and unworthy. Those feelings are still there this year, but there’s plenty of pride, gratitude and shock, too.
Nikki: Thank you! Feeling super grateful that this campaign we all loved so much was appreciated by the judges and received some time in the spotlight.
Could you tell us more about your role and what your day-to-day looks like?
We’re generally either working on our own briefs or CDing other creative teams on theirs. If we’re lucky, that means we’re in the production or post-production phase of a job.
Most of the time it means we’re trying to figure out the best possible solution on a brief or debrief, and how to package it in a way that gives it the best possible chance of being made. Whatever we’re doing, there’s always a copious amount of tea involved.
Tell us a little bit about the ‘Blame No More’ campaign.
Gender-based violence is such a massive problem here, but a lot of South Africans feel a sense of helplessness - even numbness - to the issue. We’re presented with these horrific statistics and headlines all the time, but we don’t really know what we can do about it. We wanted to shine a light on an aspect of rape culture that anyone can play a role in addressing.
So many South Africans don’t realise they’re guilty of perpetuating rape culture, simply by their attitude and the words they choose to use. Victim blaming or shaming is rife; from social media, to our own homes, to the places where we are supposed to feel most safe - like police stations and hospitals.
The objective of Blame No More is to point out how morally and logically absurd it is to place any kind of blame on a survivor of such a violent, terrifying and invasive experience. In doing so, we hope the campaign can ultimately help create an environment where it’s easier for survivors to speak out and perpetrators no longer feel so safe.
How did the idea come to fruition?
Jeff: It started with an idea for a film. We thought the image of a woman quite literally raping herself would make for an incredibly powerful and thought-provoking piece of content. It poses people with a question to which they can really only have one answer: Who would wish this kind of violence upon themselves? Well, nobody.
Nikki: Making the piece involved a lot of people saying ‘yes’ to a challenging idea, from Pete our CCO to the director, Zee Ntuli and the production team at Darling. People were brave and generous with their time. We really didn’t know how it would turn out - if it would be too hard to watch or just hard enough to provoke an important conversation. It was the gamble everyone took.
What was the most rewarding aspect of working on this campaign?
Definitely the way it grew, quite organically, into something much more than a film. Generally, you have a campaign’s structure mapped out right from the start. That wasn’t the case here at all.
We had already shot and finished the film for our client, the Tears Foundation, before we thought about evolving the campaign further. Without a substantial media budget, we knew the film’s message wasn’t going to reach nearly enough people. So we started shopping around for a media partner.
Hype Magazine felt like an interesting fit. Apart from being a really influential voice in South African popular culture, hip-hop has also traditionally played a big role in perpetuating toxic masculinity; so this felt like an opportunity for Hype to take a stand.
With Hype on board, we suddenly had access to a substantial audience, as well as some of the most influential figures in South African hip-hop. This led to a cover story in Hype’s special Women’s Month issue, along with a social PR campaign driven by the likes of Boity and Shekhinah. Even Brand South Africa got involved, and adopted Blame No More as their official Women’s Month campaign.
What are the long-term plans of TBWA to keep these accolades coming?
Jeff: I think awards are a by-product of caring inordinately about the quality of the ideas and craft. So I suppose the plan is to just keep on caring as much as humanly possible.
Nikki: Everyone from traffic to client service to production at TBWA wants to make work that matters. The support we received to pursue ideas like these outside of the day to day, is what makes it happen.