Production Manager and Director of Photography (Drone)
Why is this work relevant for PR?
In recent years, Europe's frontpages were dominated by the refugee crisis. But with so much going on in 2020, it's no wonder we stopped paying attention. And yet, people are still drowning every day. The "Drowned Requiem" attacked the news world from different angles to bring the topic back into the public eye. Awareness was raised all over Europe, and the funds to send another rescue ship were collected in record time.
Worldwide, there were 80 million refugees in 2020. The Mediterranean was, and still is, one of the hotspots of this humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. Europe is watching, closing its borders and ignoring their duty to rescue at sea. At the same time, civil sea rescue is being prevented from saving lives, and five rescue ships are currently being held on flimsy grounds. “Fort Europe” has become a reality. This is despite the fact that rescue at sea is a state task, and all EU Member States have pledged to respect Human Rights.
Human rights? They simply drown with the refugees.
How do we get Europe and its politicians to look again and fulfil its humanitarian duty?
Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)
An intriguing and eye-catching Trojan horse. Fascinating us with its beauty while slowly raising the hairs at the back of our neck as we realise with sorrow that this breathtaking performance is taking place at a grave.
Recomposed into a requiem and performed by the underwater musicians Between Music, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", the European Anthem, was played at the grave of thousands who drowned seeking help – at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.
Describe the PR strategy (30% of vote)
1) Leveraging the power of authentic, real people and influencers to act as multipliers.
Instead of focusing on mainstream media and political news, the campaign was to efficiently engage its target audience by using the early adaptors and influencer's reach; turning their statement videos into messages on their own. And we also focused on a unique segment: musicians and music enthusiasts. The recomposition of Beethoven’s "Ode to joy" and the unique music video was to draw attention in the cultural world. From there on, the influencer community shall push the message further and simultaneously start the discussion on various social media platforms and all over the media.
2) Targeting politicians and empowering citizens to maximise pressure
We should geotarget European politicians, both directly and through newly empowered citizens that challenged their representatives to act.
Describe the PR execution (20% of vote)
First, we launched the campaign video on Facebook and Instagram along with a petition to EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to stop the tragedy at the Mediterranean and support state sea rescue. Simultaneously, the 700 partners within the United4Rescue's network disseminated the campaign details to their own networks.
The campaign gave users multiple options to interact and spread the word, including an influencer/press kit made available on the campaign's page.
We even localised the website and video into several languages to reach a much wider international audience.
Next, VIPs and influencers used the material to create their own posts and statement videos.
Additionally, politicians within specific EU institutions were geotargeted.
Our efforts placed the message in 133 countries, with most visitors from Germany, the US, China, Denmark and Austria.
List the results (30% of vote)
The campaign found it's way into the most influential European News channels, especially in the cultural segment. Highlighted by an ARTE documentary on the musicians and their project, the campaign was featured in ARD, RTL, WDR, SR, Sveriges Radio, KM! Radio, Deutschland Funk Kultur, La Publicidad, Stuttgarter Nachrichten and many more.
The performance video of the "Drowned Requiem" spread throughout Europe. It was particularly successful in government districts from Brussels to Berlin thanks to geotargeting. Through the campaign page, thousands of Europeans emailed EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to remind her of the EU's treaty obligations - and United4Rescue raised donations for a new rescue ship.
More than 15 million contacts, visitors from 133 countries for wesendaship.org, an average donation of 84.37 Euro per donor and 440,000 Euro for a new rescue ship: the Sea-Eye 4. Financed in a record-breaking 4 weeks.
Today the result of the campaign saves more than 400 lives in the Mediterranean. As Sandra Bils, founding member of United4Rescue, said:
"We no longer want to watch indifferently and inactively as the Mediterranean becomes a mass grave. That is why we commemorate all the dead fugitives with this requiem. With every dead person in the Mediterranean, our European values also perish! And at the same time we want to do everything to prevent further deaths. We are sending another ship."
And Ursula von der Leyen? She had her email account disabled.