Social Impact of Advertising: Saudi Arabia’s “No More Abuse” Campaign

Advertising does not just sell products and services; it can also sell a way of life. Advertising has long been associated with reflecting the foundation of society’s values and aspirations. Further, advertising can influence the mass media and make powerful social statements.
This is true of a recent “No More Abuse” ad campaign by Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid Foundation, advocating for women’s rights and awareness of domestic violence. The campaign centers on an ad of a woman in a dark veil with one black eye. In Arabic, slogans read “the tip of an iceberg” and “some things can’t be covered.” The ads were placed on billboards and in newspapers across Saudi Arabia. Upon launch, the campaign immediately went viral. Social media also played a role, with Twitter erupting with a misleading, yet aggressive hashtag #HitHer in support of the campaign.

The campaign was in response to the new Saudi Arabian law, passed in fall 2013, that forbids physical or sexual violence against women. Saudi Arabia’s State Department projects 16-50% of wives suffer domestic violence, citing these numbers may be grossly inaccurate due to under-reporting. Women may fail to come forward because they face humiliation and the threat of social ostracization and continued violence. Many remain skeptical of the implementation of the new law and question whether it will successfully reduce violence against women.

Ranked 131st out of 135 countries for women’s rights by the World Economic Forum, Saudi Arabia is notorious for its lack of political, economic and social empowerment of women. In such a male-centric and censorship culture, this ad was a controversial approach to bring the underground issue of domestic violence into mainstream discussion. The ad attempts to influence opinion and incite change that may ultimately save a life.

Read more articles about the ad and the “No More Abuse” campaign HERE.



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