“LIFEBOAT - the experiment” is a one of it’s kind PR-Stunt. To regain awareness and media coverage for the refugee crisis on the Mediterranean Sea and rescue organization Sea-watch we invited jour-nalists of Germanys biggest Newspaper and selected influencers to participate in a simulation to experience only a fragment of what it really takes to cross the Mediterranean. Later they were con-fronted with the real stories to understand the bigger picture. By putting them literally onto this journey they were able to understand the importance and urge of our society to act.
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 (20% 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 PR strategy (30% of vote)
The refugee crisis in the Mediterranean along the world’s deadliest border unfortunatly lost its news-value and with it, Sea-watch’s vision and ongoing efforts fall silent. When Sea-watch wanted the story to be heard again, the story need to be told by someone, the European society listens to. Likeminded and from the own cultural background and ethnicity.
5 Refugees who survived told their story of their induvidual escape. On the basis of their stories we let 40 Europeans experience in a simulation only a fragment of what it really feels like to cross the Mediterranean. Thereby the participants of the experiment told the story of the refugees. A German proxy for a refugee’s story. Further the participants represented the German society in age, gender and profession to maximize the potential for the viewers identification. A psychological trick: A change of perspective driving a mindshift in society.
Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)
To make the refugee crisis a globally recognized problem again, we brought it closer; geographically and emotionally. Based on first hand experiences of five refugees who survived, we set up a simulation attempting to remodel all conditions of a real escape. Darkness, waves, stress, anxiety, uncertainty simulated in a wave-pool of a maritime training center in North Germany. All emotions and experiences were captured under very controlled circumstances by Oscar-nominated Director Skye Fitzgerald in the documentary-short “LIFEBOAT – The experiment”. The documentary was hosted on a mobile-optimized website, spread across all channels by selected political influencer and classical media. To guarantee an initial spark of the conversation we invited a journalist of the biggest German newspaper to participate in the experiment. Facebook and Instagram Stories made it a trending topic online so that the issue got picked up internationally across the globe.
List the results (30% 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.