Salvation Army Uses “The Dress” in Anti-Abuse Campaign (JOUR 4460)

Initially I thought “the dress” was black and blue. In certain lighting, the dress is white and gold while in others it is black and blue. But appearances can be deceptive. Salvation Army South America is using the same concept in its new campaign against domestic violence:

The first ad, which appeared on Twitter on Thursday, states, “The only illusion is if you think it was her choice. One in 6 women are victims of abuse. Stop abuse against women.” The second ad appeared on Twitter today. The campaign is using #stopabuseagainstwomen as its hashtag.

The Ireland Davenport advertising agency brought the campaign idea to the Salvation Army, arguing that “the dress” controversy actually meant nothing. They wanted to use its popularity for good. Carin A. Holmes, Salvation Army Spokesperson, told NBC news that they hope the campaign brings attention to violence against women and the organization’s work with CareHaven, shelter and psychiatric care center for abused women and children in South Africa.

This Salvation Army public service announcement/ad campaign is an amazing public relations play on an Internet sensation like “the dress.” With the controversy having gained so much attention and creating millions of interactions, the ad agency was right to jump on the opportunity to use it to promote anti-violence. The ads have resonated with and received support from many on Twitter:

There is no doubt in my mind that social media skills are a requirement for today’s PR and communications professionals. I think knowing how to use the trending topics on Twitter, Instagram and other sites to your advantage is necessary to achieve success in online campaigns. This could also be called content strategy. Advocacy groups and nonprofit organizations can especially benefit from these skills because, for most, using PR is more realistic than using advertising (advertising is expensive).

If domestic abuse was talked about as widely and openly as the white and gold dress controversy, I think more victims of abuse would report it, find safety and live lives free of fear. It is almost impossible to be unaware of or ignore trending topics today because of social media. Therefore, I hope more organizations take the cue from the Salvation Army and use these opportunities to create awareness of real issues in our world.


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