The Webby for Good, produced in partnership with WP Engine, is a showcase of Webby-honored projects and campaigns that are promoting social good in the world.
Describe your project. What is it, what was the elevator pitch?
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram strictly prohibit the display of female nipples. On International Women’s Day 2016, 17 brave women each bared a naked breast on Facebook and Instagram, urging all women to “Check it before it’s removed.” Pink Ribbon Germany, together with female social influencers, national and international celebrities, singers, bloggers and athletes shared the pictures with millions of followers, encouraging them to quickly re-share the posts before they were censored by moderators, generating buzz online and in mainstream media.
What key challenges did you face with this project? And how did you overcome them?
Our biggest challenge was getting our message heard despite Facebook’s strict moderation working against us. We were dealing with a self-destructing concept: when one of our assets were deleted we also lost all the associated likes and shares - so it was very difficult to grow organically and gain momentum in the usual way. Because of this we needed our supporters and influencers to upload multiple instances of our campaign motifs across Facebook.
What was the most rewarding aspect of working on your project?
The most rewarding aspect was seeing the incredible amount of support for this initiative; starting with the 17 brave women who posed for the pictures, through to the Pink Ribbon organisation and the numerous influencers, celebrities and supporters who risked suspension from their social media accounts to help spread this message. Finally the PR support helped further multiply the message - while our campaign was being eroded on the social web, the mainstream news media picked up the story and ensured the campaign would live on and reach even more women around the world.
Why this particular cause as the subject of your project/campaign?
With breast cancer affecting so many women each year and Facebook censorship causing controversy in Germany, we saw a great opportunity for Pink Ribbon, and they agreed it was a perfect moment to talk about early detection. Another great opportunity was using social platforms like Facebook and Instagram to reach younger women, who are Pink Ribbon’s core focus.
When working on this project, what were some of the most important conversations you had with your team?
The biggest discussions (and arguments!) were around the photography and how the women were to be portrayed. We wanted the images to be bold, arresting, controversial even—but we did not want to sexualize the subjects in any way. We also wanted the women to come across as heroines, not as victims. We wanted them to appear proud, courageous, and defiant.
What did you learn from working on this project that you didn't know going into it? Did anything come out of it that surprised you, or that you weren't expecting?
The big lesson was that with social media timing is everything—you need to find the right moment and make it yours. But what truly surprised us was Facebook’s reaction to our campaign. At first they deleted the posts, but then they began to relax their moderation, and after meeting with Facebook’s Mark D’Arcy and the heads of Facebook Germany, we received a great deal of positive feedback and praise. “You hacked us!” they said, “… at Facebook this is a great compliment! Well done!”
Best, most creative, innovative or highly effective use of online social media for an advertising or marketing campaign.