The More People Look at These Interactive Public Awareness Ads, the More Healed Abused Women’s Faces Depicted Get

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March 8 marked International Women’s Day, but London-based creative agency WCRS got a jump start on the celebration, putting up a set of billboards to spread awareness of domestic violence. However, they’re not your typical public awareness posters.

Raising awareness is a form of activism. The idea is that the first step to changing how institutions handle a problem is to inform the populace about the issue. Raising awareness is the first step to changing things, which is literally what these interactive ads do.

Each billboard depicts the portrait of an abused woman, her face marked by bruises, cuts, and a black eye. As more and more people look at the poster, facial recognition technology begins to “heal” the women — the more the poster is seen, the smaller the women’s wounds get — just as raising awareness begins to solve a problem.

“Often people don’t want to see domestic violence or do something about it because it feels too difficult or they’re worried what they do won’t have any impact,” Polly Neate, British charity Women’s Aid chief executive, told theHuffington Post UK. “They turn a blind eye because of this, leaving women isolated and making it even harder for them to get help.”

The visual metaphor is made even more harrowing when you consider the fact that — just as is the case with real world violence — the wounds won’t heal if no one looks and the image remains the same.

“This is the type of ‘innovation’ frankly I can do without. By people looking at the images, the pictures of these women heal themselves? I suppose it is interesting that a company could technically execute this. But how does this communicate anything of value?” wonders Tom Ajello, founder and creative director of Makeable. “Are the women really getting healed? No. Is anyone donating? No. And what happens when it becomes popular and the images are 75 to 80% healed? Then those exposed to the advertising are looking at marginally attractive visages of a cause that is no longer clear to the viewer. This is the problem of innovation today. Too many marketers executing things because they CAN, not because they SHOULD.”

Even more interesting than that is the fact that anyone “within proximity of the billboard” will receive a text message via mobile marketing venture Weve, which encourages them to donate to Women’s Aid.

There’s also livefeed panels at the bottom, which display images of the onlookers in the hopes that the billboards draw even more attention.

“We want to show this International Women’s Day that anyone can ‘Make it Happen’, and everyone can help put a stop to domestic violence, by noticing it, by donating to Women’s Aid, and to making sure their communities don’t tolerate the sexist attitudes that lead to abuse,” explained Neate. “That’s what we hope to achieve with this advert.”

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