In the wake of the ghastly New Year’s eve mass molestation incident in Bengaluru emerged two topical social media campaigns to promote better treatment of women and change attitudes of the Indian public. In the midst of preparing for their first match of the I-League season this year, Bengaluru Football Club initiated a campaign led by a two minute video asking men to take a pledge to be better men. Bengaluru-based social media and digital marketing agency, Autumn Worldwide, created a hard-hitting 90 second video urging the public to say something if they see something.
Bengaluru FC for Women
Bengaluru FC’s media team conceptualised and created the campaign just in time to be launched on January 7, the day the team would play its first match of the season against the Shillong Lajong FC. On hearing about the New Year’s eve incident in Bengaluru, the team was terribly disturbed and wanted to be a part of the solution.
Given the time constraints that the team was working with, the video is simple yet powerful. The film features Sunil Chhetri, John Johnson and Daniel Lalhlimpuia listing everything that is on their minds this season - winning, training, playing fair and the recent Bengaluru Mass Molestation incident. “What happened in Bengaluru was horrific,” says team captain Sunil Chhetri in the film.
Chhetri said that he was shocked when he heard of the incident and was glad that the club took measures to be a part of this cause with the ‘We for Women’ campaign. “I think the video does justice to the message that we are trying to put out there; that women deserve to live without fear and to be in an environment where protection is not required. Bengaluru FC takes steps to make sure that women feel comfortable at our games. Last year, we allowed women to walk in free for a game that coincided with International Women’s Day, so women have always been a part of this. They enjoy the atmosphere at the stadium and we are glad to have them as part of the BFC family,” he added.
The film goes on to draw attention to the attitude of the public towards such incidents, it says, “When 50 per cent of the population has to live in fear, we know there is something wrong with us.” The sportsmen even raise the bone of contention of the incident that the perpetrators were not from Karnataka. “Let’s not get caught up about where people are from. Wrong is wrong. If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem.” The film called upon the viewers to turn the entire city into a Fortress (moniker for the Sree Kanteerava Stadium) where no protection is needed for women.
The video ends with the players donning a pink jersey instead of their trademark blue and the words: because you are in our hearts, on our minds, and now on our sleeves. Johnson said that to hear of something like this taking place in the neighbourhood troubled him and his team to no end. “We felt as a team that represents the city we need to take a stand and help spread the message. We’re always grateful for the fans we have and the kind of love and respect they’ve given us and if they can carry our message and be ambassadors for the cause then our purpose will have been met,” he said. And just as he wished fans of the team came out in full support of the campaign sharing the film on social media platforms. In addition the #weforwomen campaign by the team was appreciated and re-shared on social media platforms by UN Women, UN Women India and HeforShe campaign.
The team whose moniker is in fact The Blues played its first match in pink, bolding carrying their message onto the field. According to a source from the Bengaluru FC team who did not wish to be named, the team that was yet to have its third-kit jersey colours finalised when they decided to go with pink, a colour popularly associated with women and girls.
Ugly face of the mannequin challenge
As a Bengaluru-based firm, Autumn Worldwide took part in the conversation about the incident by creating a video-led campaign that addressed the attitude of the public at large. Abhay Rajankar and his team conceptualised a quick response to the incident last week. Shot without any cuts, the single take video is a play on the recent #mannequinchallenge.
The video begins with the camera panning around a residential neighbourhood where young men and women seem to be taking part in the #mannequinchallenge. All the by-standers are seen looking into their phones, taking videos, or talking about what they are all looking at. As the camera pans, it becomes clear that all the on-lookers are watching a women get groped and abused on the street. The woman being abused shouts for help, but no one comes forward. She finally manages to push the men away and pulls out a couple of posters. The posters read:
Out of the 60,000 people who were on Brigade Road, possibly 1000 were molesters, the rest 59,000 were mannequins. #dontbeamannequin.
Explaining that the whole video was shot in a day on a mobile phone, Rajankar said that the team at Autumn Worldwide did not expect the video to go as viral as it did. “Everyone was taking on this meaningless challenge to pose like mannequins and we thought that we could use this same idea and turn it into something effective and spark a conversation,” Rajankar said.
The video uploaded to Vimeo on January 11 has garnered more than 63,000 views in six days and has been shared widely by internet users in Karnataka, Maharashtra and London. Rajankar said that the tendency to watch from the sidelines is a problem that all societies face with regard to all kinds of social evils. “All one needs to do is stand up and say ‘No’. You do not even have to fight. People who abuse women are scared of being called out, if you take a stand they are bound to run away,” he said.
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