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
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
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.