“The Distress Signal” demonstrates how a creative strategy and idea turned one of our oldest media channels intro an immersive and engaging campaign across several platforms.
In El Salvador any form of abortion is prohibited and women are being prosecuted as murderers. Teodora Vasquez was sentenced to 30 years in prison after suffering a stillbirth. She had already spent 10 years in jail when our campaign went live.
Amnesty International had already tried several petition campaigns without any luck, and medias attention where everywhere else than a 10 years old human right case.
Create awareness around Teodora and the situation in El Salvador.
Describe the creative idea/insights
The distress signal:
In 2017 Norway was the first country in the world to shut down its FM-radio-network. Every national news station was talking about it. But no one was talking about Teodora Vasquez.
That's why Amnesty International hijacked the Norwegian FM-network,
and gave this silenced media to someone no one was listening to.
Describe the strategy
Injustice happens when nobody is paying attention.
Amnesty International had tried several petition campaigns, so we knew we had to try something different.
Insight: Petitions happens behind closed doors. You probably wouldn’t know if your friend had signed one. We needed to find a way where one action could spark the next one.
“#iamlistening Are you?”
Then there was the context: Every national news station was talking about the shut down of our entire FM-radio-network. We decided that this was our point of attack. By hijacking the Norwegian FM-band to start the broadcast of our distress signal we had momentum.
Now. The rest was up to the people.
Describe the execution
First we created the actual distress signal - a recording made from a phone call with Teodora’s sister and a reporter from Amnesty International.
We then managed to hijack the FM-band using our own radio-receiver, to broadcast its first distress signal since second world war.
Our receiver could only reach 8km, but by linking the broadcast to social media through a 24/7 live stream, we invited people to help us boost the signal.
On iamlistening.org people could turn their Facebook or Twitter into a radio antenna by sharing the signal. #iamlistening trended on twitter.
In the Live stream of the signal we had created a layer where we could communicate in real time with our audience about what was going on. And more importantly, you could see the counter showing how many people who had listened before you. This was our petition. The campaign was live 24/7 for 9 days.
List the results
- Massive national news coverage.
- Every political leader in Norway shared the signal.
- Radio stations donated airtime
.- 317 PR stories.
In the end “The distress signal” didn’t only Reach: over 2,5 billion people.It was a new take on the traditional petition campaigns, where people could see their friends listening in. And on Feb 15th the Salvadoran government overruled the court’s decision and Teodora was set free. Since then, one additional woman has been released, and now the Salvadoran abortion law is up for review.