In Estonia, the legal age of sexual consent is only 14. Every year, 14-year-old children get sexually abused because of it and yet, all previous attempts to change this law have failed. The problem is, people think a 14-year-old is fully capable of giving sexual consent to an older adult.
Our creative strategy was to show the public what a 'consensual relationship' between a 14-year-old and an older adult actually looks like. So people would instantly see that at 14, a girl or a boy is just a child and how easily an older adult can sexually manipulate this child.
In Estonia, the legal age of sexual consent is only 14. At 14, a child is too young to understand the dangers that come with sexual consent. Every year, 14-year-old children get sexually abused because of this law, and yet, every attempt to change the law has failed. There is no consensus among political parties and key decision makers on this topic. Neither is there any public pressure on them to take action, because people think 14 is OK.
We had to protect 14-year-old children from sexual abuse by raising the legal age of sexual content.
We had to get people to realise how dangerous this law is, so they would publicly raise their voice in support of changing the law. This in turn would raise the pressure on politicians and lawmakers to take immediate steps to increase the legal age of sexual consent.
Interpretation (30% of vote)
For years, articles and interviews by opinion leaders, child specialists and activists had failed to move the public and lawmakers. Cases of sexual abuse involving 14-year-olds would emerge in the media and soon die down.
The core reason for this public apathy was the underlying misconception that a 14-year-old is fully capable of giving sexual consent to an older adult. Comments like ‘she knew exactly what she was doing’, ‘she wanted it’ or ‘she must have led him on' weren’t uncommon.
Our goal was to drive public awareness around the fact that at 14, a girl or a boy is only a child. And that child can easily be manipulated into believing he or she is having 'consensual sex', even if he or she is being sexually abused. Only then, the public would realise why 14 is too young and raise pressure on lawmakers to change this dangerous law.
Insight / Breakthrough Thinking (30% of vote)
We analysed hundreds of news reports around this topic from the last 5 years, which included horrifying cases of sexual abuse involving 14-year-old girls and boys.
To protect the identity of the alleged victim, none of the news stories had ever shown the 14-year-old, let alone photos of the victim along with the alleged abuser who was a much older adult in such cases.
If only people could actually see a 14-year-old child in a 'consensual relationship' with a much older adult, they would immediately realise why 14 is too young. But if the public knew it was a staged relationship for a campaign using actors, it would not have the desired impact.
The strategic direction:
We would have to show a fictional relationship between a 14-year-old child and a much older adult in a way that people would think it's real.
Creative Idea (20% of vote)
We bought a content marketing space on one of Estonia's leading online news portals and on Estonia's largest daily newspaper. Both are known for sensational news.
We then published a horrifying story about the 'consensual relationship´ between 14-year-old Piia Heivdal and 54-year-old Kristo Terrandi. The story was fictional, but we carefully crafted the text and the photos in a way that would make people initially think it was a real tabloid style news story about a real child in danger right now! We even integrated native design elements of the news publication.
As planned, people completely missed the 'content marketing' sign and continued reading in horror. By the time they realised it was a campaign, they had also realised in the most impactful way why the law needs to be changed immediately.
To help change the law, at the end of the story, we gave people a hashtag - #14isnotOK
Outcome / Results (20% of vote)
Within 24 hours, the story and the photos of 14-year-old Piia and 54-year-old Kristo went viral. The campaign sparked a nationwide movement where people raised their voice against the law to say ''14 is not OK''. Influencers and other victims who had been sexually abused at 14 began sharing their stories using #14isnotOK.
Despite a campaign budget of just €5000, the campaign crossed 1 million+ impressions in a country of 1.4 million people.
Story read: 204,000+ times
Images clicked: 300,000+ times
Story rating: 10th most-read story in the history of the news portal.
Comments and reactions: 25,000+
Coverage across top national TV & radio channels: 570,000+ reach
But the most important result of all was that the Ministry of Justice immediately introduced a bill to raise the legal age of sexual consent to 16.
14 will no longer be OK in our society, or in our legal system.