CAMPAIGNS: Charity - Tackling a matter of life and death

Client: Refuge

Client: Refuge

Campaign: Domestic Violence. It’s a matter of Life or Death

PR Team: Oasis Media

Timescale: 22 November 1999 and ongoing

Budget: Part of retained contract

Shockingly, every fortnight, two women are killed by their current or

former partners in England and Wales. Domestic violence is a crime that

affects many women from all walks of life on a daily basis. It accounts

for a quarter of all crimes, according to figures from the Home


Refuge, the domestic violence charity, helps over 20,000 women and

children each year through its lifeline of safe houses and 24-hour

helplines. The charity decided to tell the truth about domestic violence

with the help of Oasis Media.


To increase public awareness of domestic violence against women and

children and increase support for victims. To increase funds for the

charity Refuge.

To encourage abused women to speak out about their experiences.

Strategy and Plan

The campaign began with the creation of several hard-hitting print and

TV advertisements. The theme to this ad campaign was: ’Domestic

Violence. It’s a Matter of Life or Death’.

To further support the campaign several high profile supporters of

Refuge were approached and asked to help the campaign. Sheryl Gascoigne,

the former wife of England footballer Paul Gascoigne, agreed to launch

the campaign after she received help from Refuge.

Oasis Media secured an exclusive interview with the Sun in which Sheryl

agreed to talk about her abusive relationship for the first time.

Symbolic black and white Refuge ribbons - signifying life and death -

were sold through the Sun on behalf of the charity and an agreement was

made with Waterstone’s bookstores to also sell the ribbons. The first

part of Sheryl’s interview was published in the 22 November issue of the

Sun and marked the launch of the campaign. The rest of her interview was

published in the following two issues, culminating in a seven-page

spread on the Wednesday devoted to Refuge and the services it


Other personalities, including Ruby Wax and Helen Mirren, were

photographed wearing the Refuge ribbon and offering their support to the


Oasis Media also negotiated an exclusive TV interview with Gascoigne on

the prime time Tonight with Trevor McDonald show.

Further TV interviews were secured on several daytime shows including a

special edition of the talkshow, Trisha, devoted to domestic


At the end of this hectic week the Prime Minister’s wife, Cherie Blair,

a trustee of Refuge, offered her support to the fund-raising drive and

told the Sun that ’society must not tolerate domestic violence’.

Measurement and Evaluation

The campaign is ongoing but the media coverage gained so far has been

phenomenal. The Sun’s readership is over 10 million readers a day,

giving more than a quarter of the country a chance to see the Sheryl

Gascoigne interview.

Coverage also appeared in the Daily Telegraph, the Times, the Mirror,

and the Daily Mail. Several regional newspapers, radio and TV stations

ran the story along with Channel 5, ITV, GMTV and Virgin Radio. The

interview on the Tonight with Trevor McDonald show attracted record

viewing figures of over 14 million.


This campaign has definitely achieved its objectives. The Sun gave a

generous donation to Refuge for Sheryl’s interview. Its readers have

contributed over pounds 40,000 and offered their support to the


The Refuge helpline has been flooded with calls and several celebrities

have spoken out for the first time of their own experiences of domestic

violence. It seems the taboos surrounding domestic violence are falling,

and the charity couldn’t really hope for better results than this.

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