Freedom Voices | The Webby Awards

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 Webby-nominated project. What is it, what was the elevator pitch?

As you read this, people all over the world are having their most basic human right violated by censorship—their stories silenced, their faces hidden, their voices unheard. Our project shows millennials that people and societies everywhere still suffer from censorship, and provides a way for them to join the fight, by giving up the one thing they have that the silenced masses do not—a voice. To reach our intended audience, we partnered with Nobel Peace Prize recipient Amnesty International, a global force to fight against injustice and promote human rights, and their more than 2 million members and 5 million activists globally. The campaign had a clear-cut objective: grow the organization's community digitally with a younger global demographic.

What key challenges did you face with this project? And how did you overcome them?

"To most millennials Amnesty International is something their parents were involved with in college. The organization's member base is aging, and many of their active members were over the age of 40. In order to continue its mission, it was crucial that the organization engage younger people with its work. Furthermore, censorship is not something most Western-born millennials have much context for. So the challenge was two-fold—educate our target audience that censorship is a problem, and give them a way to do something about it. We overcame this by going to where millennial users were already engaged in sharing so that Amnesty International’s mission would be as relatable as possible. We leveraged existing technology by partnering the widely popular lip-syncing app, Dubsmash, to create a soundboard of speeches by Malala Yousafzai, Pussy Riot, Ai WeiWei, and Edward Snowden to serve as a megaphone of defiance. Our approach was to partner with Dubsmash, without affecting its original functionality. This allowed Freedom Voices to sync seamlessly with Dubsmash and take advantage of its back-end capabilities to collect and measure user data. "

What was the most rewarding aspect of working on your Webby-nominated project?

Six days after launch, the Freedom Voices Soundboard on Dubsmash topped ~1,000,000 plays in 180 countries, 6 continents, and reached the lips of tens of thousands of people around the world. That translates into more than 34 days of people talking about censorship around-the-clock. Freedom Voices was even featured on several news sites before it became a hot topic of conversation among celebrities and Dubsmash influencers such as Jimmy Fallon, Selena Gomez, Hugh Jackman, Rihanna, and Kylie Jenner, to name a few. But most importantly, Freedom Voices engaged a new generation in the ageless fight for freedom of speech.

When working on this project, what were some of the most important conversations you had with your team?

As a multicultural and multi-generational team, it was interesting to see how different cultures view freedom of speech and social justice. For instance, several of our creative team came from Latin America, now mostly a democracy, but not so long ago was the home of several dictatorships. When combined with American, European, and Eastern points-of-view, a greater picture emerged—one that we needed to speak to with our creative voices.

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