CAMPAIGN: Charity - Act for Tibet leap attracts world media

Client: Act for Tibet PR Team: Cunning Stunts Campaign: Reward the Dalai Lama Timescale: March - May 2003 Budget: Pro bono

For over 50 years the Dalai Lama has conducted an entirely peaceful campaign to highlight the oppression of the Tibetan people by The People's Republic of China. Act for Tibet is a London-based organisation established to help keep the Tibetan cause in the headlines.


The organisation felt the aftermath of the Iraq war was a timely moment to publicise non-violence, and in a way that was as public as possible - the first ever parachute jump from the top of Nelson's Column.

Strategy and Plan

The stunt was entirely dependent on the weather and the ability of a four-man team to scale Nelson's Column without attracting the attention of the police.

As such, wind speeds and forecasts were checked daily, and two 4am trips to Trafalgar Square were undertaken in order to measure the time it would take police officers to arrive from nearby Charing Cross Police Station.

The jump could only be completed if the wind speed was between seven and nine mph, and it was calculated the team would only need five minutes to climb over the plinth. Once they started up the tower, there was little the police could do to stop them.

The parachutist was professional stuntman Gary Connery - a veteran of numerous films including The Beach and Captain Corelli's Mandolin - while his companions were three professional climbers.

At 4am on Friday 8 May they began their ascent, and four hours later were ready. A 15-metre portrait of the Dalai Lama - with the words Reward the Dalai Lama - was unfurled, and, at 8am precisely, Connery jumped. His companions descended in a more leisurely manner.

Cunning Stunts decided to invite the media that it thought would offer a demographic sympathetic to the Dalai Lama's cause. As such journalists from the Daily Mirror, The Guardian and Virgin Radio were invited, with the proviso they did not inform the police about the forthcoming event.

The Evening Standard was invited, as it is London's only daily newspaper. The Press Association was invited in order to supply filmed coverage.

Measurement and Evaluation

The outcome of the stunt is still being evaluated. Cunning Stunts reports it was featured on BBC, ITN and Sky across the UK, and on CNN. It was also covered in many UK national newspapers the next day, including the Daily Mirror, The Guardian, the Daily Star, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Sky News, LBC and the New York Post also interviewed representatives of Act for Tibet.


Is the British public more aware of the Dalai Lama's cause? Act for Tibet thinks so. The organisation reports an increase of hits on its website - although at the time of going to press it was unable to supply a figure.

Evening Standard photographer Jeremy Selwyn believes the campaign undoubtedly attracted attention. 'The event was the first of its kind, and provided us with some truly dramatic pictures,' he says.

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