Creativity+Technology to tackle domestic abuse to women

Last week, I attended a presentation by WPP, the world’s largest advertising company by revenue, who were here to talk about the MBA Program called the WPP Fellowship. It was the first time that WPP had presented at CJBS. It was also the first employer presentation that I’ve attended where the entire audience gave a resounding round of applause. Twice. Before the end of the Presentation. And no, they were not for some joke at Oxford’s expense. Rather it was for two recent marketing campaigns that WPP companies had made. I will just talk about one of those campaigns.

This was a campaign undertaken by Y&R, which WPP owns, on behalf of Vodafone in Turkey. The situation is that many women in Turkey suffer in silence in the face of domestic abuse, largely due to the societal norms. Vodafone wanted to change that and with the help of Y&R, developed an ingenious marketing campaign that involved a secret mobile app. Women would download the app which functioned for the most part like a flashlight app using the flash function of the camera. But if the woman felt threatened, she could shake the phone and it would send a message with her location to three people she trusted.

What was ingenious about this was that the app was distributed secretly to women. You have to watch this video to understand what I mean.

I was completely bowled over by this campaign and, judging by the applause, so were many of the Cambridge MBAs. Here was an example of how a huge dose of creativity, technology and the will to make a difference had combined to come up with a product that had a positive impact on society. At the same time, the campaign must have enhanced Vodafone’s brand in Turkey, especially amongst women.

While I hope that many of the MBAs present that day would have been inspired to apply to the WPP Fellowship, I also know that it is a very competitive programme and they only accept less than 5% of applicants. Nonetheless, I hope that even those who are unsuccessful in their applications would be inspired to think how they can use the MBA year ahead to create something as powerful as Vodafone’s app.

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