Category C04. Audience Targeting / Engagement Strategies
Entrant LA RED Hamburg, GERMANY
Idea Creation LA RED Hamburg, GERMANY
Production ARD Hamburg, GERMANY
Additional Company 4=1 Hamburg, GERMANY
Name Company Position
Matthias Maurer LA RED GmbH Managing Director
Jan Köpke LA RED GmbH Creative Director
Daniel Klose LA RED GmbH Creative Director
Hannah Johnson LA RED GmbH Senior Concept
Lucas Florian LA RED GmbH Digital Strategist
Kevin Breynck LA RED GmbH Technical Director
Malte Klaedtke LA RED GmbH Junior Concept
Ilka Klingenberg LA RED GmbH Account Director
Marjan Haider LA RED GmbH Junior Art Director

The Campaign

Our theory: online haters are hiding behind their computer screens. So would they have the courage come out of their anonymity to say their hate to the face of those affected? That’s what we wanted to find out with the project „Say it to my face! A Facebook live experiment in online hate speech.


We asked three journalists regularly on the receiving end of anonymous insults – including the ARD’s Editor-in-Chief Kai Gniffke – to share a video commentary about a controversial subject on the Tagesschau Facebook page. Subjects that we knew would provoke a wave of hate. And they did: hundreds of hate comments flooded in. Through microtargeting on Facebook two days later, we were able to present precisely these hate commentators a video challenging them to join the journalist they’d written to in a live video chat. To say what they had just written, right to their faces. At the same time, we published a vertical video ad developed and targeted especially to drive awareness amongst millennials. On the following day, the Facebook live event took place.For one hour, live on Facebook, for three days after another. Finally, a short video documentation was developed and targeted to millennials on Facebook and YouTube.

What happened? The haters did indeed come. But hardly any had the courage to actually say what they’d written. Even when put on the spot. Apparently, it wasn’t easy to speak in the raw tone of their comments when looking their counterpart in the eye. The campaign reached 11 million on Facebook alone, including every news and current-affairs interested millennial in Germany. Over 3.1 million people watched the campaign videos, with 460,000 tuning in for the live sessions. Within these sessions alone, we received 18,000 comments. In fact, the interaction rate on the Tagesschau Facebook profile more than doubled to 1.1 million throughout the entire campaign. The experiment triggered a national debate on hate speech, which was picked up on not just TV (eg. ARD Morgenmagazin, Nachtmagazin, Tagesschau) and radio reports (eg. SWR3, 1Live, Inforadio), but in over 50 media publications including top publishers like Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Vice, Welt and Der Spiegel. The hashtag #Sagsmirinsgesicht (#sayittomyface) was trending topic on Twitter and YouTube. After the action concluded, many of the general public demanded that it become a regular content format, even commenting “I now pay my GEZ fees with pride!” Most also described the action as “brave”. A conclusion that one of Germany’s top YouTubers LeFloyd also shared in a video to his 3 Million subscribers. But perhaps most crucially, we finally found out why online haters write so cruelly. Not because they hate the person they are commenting on, but because they want to be heard.

The Situation

The Tagesschau is Germany’s largest public news broadcaster. It’s problem: the audience is aging rapidly, with an average age for its TV-news offering of over 65 years old. Our challenge: attract the next generation of millennials. But by setting the social agenda. To do this, we took a position on one of the most important topics for this generation: online hate speech. Our controversial Facebook content format triggered a national debate both on and offline. But more importantly through this campaign, combined with specially developed Facebook targeting, we were able to reach all German politics and news interested millennials.

The Strategy

Our first communicative target group: “millennials” – young people aged 21-35 interested in politics and current-affairs. This target group is increasingly frustrated that comments on one of their main platforms, Facebook, are being dominated by a small, hateful minority. We used this insight to get in touch with them right there, and establish our relevance. By demonstrating to them that we are fighting for something they too want: a better discussion culture on the internet. In order to do this, we knew we had to challenge exactly those haters that had recently commented on the Tagesschau Facebook page to enter an eye to eye dialogue. This was our second communicative target group: the haters. We reached them with a specially developed Facebook targeting strategy (see digital supporting content). By the Tagesschau taking a stance on such a polarising topic, we speculated that a broad PR echo was likely.