Thriving Creative Partnerships: How Avon, Refuge and Red raised awareness of domestic abuse during lockdown
The statistics surrounding domestic violence are horrifying. 1 in 3 women will be impacted by abuse during her lifetime; police report a domestic abuse call every 30 seconds; whilst two women are killed every week at the hands of a current or former partner.
Despite all this, awareness still needs to be raised as stereotypes surrounding domestic violence stifle understanding of it and perhaps most importantly, women's recognition that they are sufferers of it.
When the world went into lockdown in early 2020, the problem was exacerbated with sufferers unable to escape and reach vital support communities. Together, Avon, Refuge and Red Consultancy sought to use this time as a period of opportunity to raise awareness and help those most in need. To ensure whilst women might be in lockdown, they still knew how to get help.
Associate Board Director and Business Director Stephanie Nattu talks to Natalie Deacon (Executive Director of Corporate Affairs & CSR, President of Avon Foundation For Women), Lisa King (Director of Communications & External Relations for Refuge) and Jenny Fieldgate (Strategy Director for Red Consultancy).
A video will be available to watch below from 2pm on Thursday 3rd September.
Natalie Deacon is President of the Avon Foundation For Women, which is dedicated to improving the lives of women globally, with a focus on tackling women’s empowerment and gender abuse. In addition to leading the Foundation Natalie is also Executive Director Corporate Affairs at Avon in which role she leads on corporate affairs programmes to deliver on Avon’s vision that a better life for a woman means a better world for everyone.
Director of Communications & External Relations Lisa King has worked at Refuge for 16 years and has overseen and grown Refuge’s profile and the reach of Refuge’s services through extensive media coverage and award-winning campaigns. Lisa also leads Refuge’s policy and influencing work and ensures that Refuge’s voice, and the experiences of the 6,500 survivors the charity supports on any given day, are heard at the top tables of Government. Lisa is passionate about issues relating to violence against women and girls.
As Strategy Director for Red’s Corporate and Technology division, Jenny Fieldgate helps clients articulate complex corporate and business narratives into stories that have mainstream appeal, ultimately increasing brand consideration. As well as developing strategic and creative communications programmes on behalf of clients, Jenny also plays a senior role in advising client communications on reputation or service issues.
5 key takeaways from the interview:
1. Don’t ever assume the obvious
When confronted with the shocking statistics of domestic abuse in the UK, it’s hard to imagine domestic abuse being something people are capable of turning a blind eye to. Yet as Lisa King said, it remains a taboo subject. Understanding is limited and stereotypes serve to flatten its awareness. The teams at Avon, Refuge and Red never stopped in their mission to drive their agenda, encourage more discussion, and signpost help.
2. Thinking beyond lockdown
As Natalie Deacon said, Avon has been supporting women since 1886 through its business model which enabled them to learn and earn, even before they could legally vote. It was always evident then that their support of women would not just be a bubble around lockdown. Like so many pivots we’ve seen during this series, it’s crucial to see them as a part of your brand journey and not simply a product of emergency measures. As Lisa said, “We will continue to support this issue but it’s really important that legistalers and those driving the post-COVID agenda really keep this front of mind. We’re going to continue to keep the pressure up on that.”
3. Listen to the situation
Jenny Fieldgate said how a crucial part of this campaign’s impact was acting quickly. “Pace and agility - that’s the key to this. Don’t overthink it too much.” She said how they had to listen to the situation out there and respond as quickly as they could. Had they delayed things or over-thought them, they might have missed crucial points of connection with an audience in need of help and support. Because of their ability to act fast, following the campaign’s launch there was a 120% increase in calls to the Refuge helpline - a statistic Jenny called “extraordinarily said” but promising because of those women and children now reaching vital support services.
4. A time for empathy
Lockdown has been an extraordinary shift in circumstances for many people. Whatever someone’s lifestyle, the inability to go out, connect with friends and family, or simply exercise as often as you like meant life became tainted by anxiety and isolation. Domestic violence, as Lisa King explained, “is so difficult to get attention for.” Yet through lockdown, the conditions people were confronted with on a daily basis meant they were more empathetic to the situation; that Refuge could even explore the subject in more breadth than they’d previously been able to. As Lisa continued, “The world got so much smaller, and those things relevant to COVID got a lot more attention … to talk about the subject in a much more extended way than ever before, so that women could really identify and understand is in part why we have seen such increase in demand - because women have had that lightbulb moment through the campaigns that we’ve run.”
5. Apply your creative nous to the future
Much will prevail over COVID when we finally return to something more recognisable as normal. We’ve talked about ways of working, and brand positioning as elements that remain and we build on. But creativity too is something that’s been stretched and redefined during this time. Natalie Deacon said, “For us it’s about continuing to create opportunities to speak out.” And that motivation will continue to be the partnership’s North Star - whether it’s COVID or something else impacting the subject of domestic violence. And the creativity of the partnership; its ability to respond and help in the most effective ways possible, will continue to grow as much as its legacy does.
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