Sea-Watch is a non-profit organization conducting civil search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea. The organization acts politically and religiously independent.
Since 2014 Sea-Watch participated in saving over 37.000 lives. While the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean along the world’s deadliest border continuous, its media coverage decreased heavily. The topic simply lost its „news-value“ and with it Sea-watch’s vision and ongoing efforts fall silent.
Describe the creative idea (40% of vote)
To regain awareness for Sea-Watch and the ongoing refugee crisis we set up a one-of-it’s kind PR Stunt. Based on the emotional stories of five refugees we set up a simulation to let a group of Germans develop emotions of stress, anxiety and experiences that are somewhat similar but only a fragment of a real escape over the Mediterranean. 40 voluntary participants represented the German society in age, gender and profession. Psychologically this change of perspective created 40 new faces to feel empathy for and to identify with. All experiences were captured in the documentary-short of the simulation “LIFEBOAT- The experiment“. A holistic campaign including off- and online media touch points as well as selected influencer drove traffic to our campaign website www.lifeboatexperiment.org. Here we invite people to inform, understand and feel the torture of each individual journey renewing the public debate and sparking a mindshift in society.
Describe the execution (40% of vote)
The experiment was delicately designed to generate a maximum immersive experience serving and triggering all human senses. With great attention to detail waves, wave patterns, light and weather conditions including varying temperatures, wind, rain and daytime, were applied according to the first hand experiences of 5 refugees who survived who we interviewed prior to the experiment. Despite the controlled conditions of the experiment the experience design was taken up a notch to really go underneath the participants skin: Scarcity of food, contaminated water, an overcrowded boat of claustrophobic proportions, anxiety, uncertainty, fear. Oscar-nominated director Sky Fitzgerald lifted stills and moving images generated from this experiment to a level enabling not only the participants but the viewers of the documentary-short to fully immerse into the experience, too.
All campaign elements were designed to meet the one maxim; to fully immerse the viewer to unlock empathy and reconnect with the issue.
List the results (20% of vote)
More than just a simulation „LIFEBOAT - The Experiment“ is a game changer for a NGO reaching out for global awareness & regaining media coverage. The experiment instantly became world news. After being covered by all major German news-channels international press from China to Canada picked it up, reaching half a billion people, trippling traffic to website and increased Brand interaction by 310%. But most importantly, with +1100 articles published, we gave people who suffer a voice to be heard again. Facebook, Instagram and twitter made it a trending topic online sparking an ongoing dialogue. All without spending a single euro in media.