Every two seconds a girl is forced to be a child bride, which is why Trigger together with Plan International Norway orchestrated a campaign to draw global attention to one of the most widespread and serious abuses of children.
39,000 young girls are married every day. Child brides are robbed of their childhood, education, and any hope for the future. This happens in far-away countries, outside our sphere of awareness. That’s why we had to bring the issue home. We decided to ground our campaign in the powerful contrast between our own ideal of fairy tale weddings and the grotesque child weddings taking place every single day. To open people’s eyes to the injustice, we put a 12-year old girl in a wedding context we normally associate with love, happiness and hopes for the future.
Thea as the iconic child bride
The campaign started when a seemingly legitimate blog was published by 12 year old Thea, in which she wrote about her upcoming wedding to 37 year old Geir. Thea’s blog and the wedding itself engaged millions of people across the world, including celebrities and world leaders, showing just how brutal and wrong child marriage really is.
Over the course of one month, Thea became a global icon in the fight against child marriages.
Using blogs as our main media channel, we invited people into Thea’s life through a platform where she could tell her story, a 12-year old Norwegian child bride who was to be married to a man 25 years her senior. Through her own wedding blog, we followed Thea on her troubling journey towards a premature encounter with the adult world. Thea’s fate became our powerful story of a brutal truth that befalls all too many girls, every single day. We knew our strategy was controversial: how would people would react to a 12-year-old Norwegian girl being a child bride – would they help us stop the wedding or would they simply be outraged?
Global protest against child marriage
Thea’s wedding blog kicked off a global public movement, turning #StopTheWedding into a worldwide concept. The campaign gained exposure in over one billion editorial and social media. Heads of state, Hollywood stars, key opinion leaders and powerful voices from all sections of Norwegian society – together with the general public – got involved to stop the child wedding.
It turned out to be a well-choreographed campaign where blogs, Twitter, and a paper at an international conference provided perfect timing for the campaign to spread virally and make the amount spent on traditional advertising more effective. The visual expression was the same in all channels and the character Thea played a central role in engaging Norwegians to take action. Even the Norwegian prime minister was inspired to talk about child marriages on national television and in international media. After a worldwide mass-mobilisation, we stopped Thea’s child wedding on the UN’s International Day of Girls.
With 2.5 million blog readers and 5.6 million views on YouTube, 68 per cent of the Norwegian people has realised the importance of the fight against child marriage, earning thousands of new supporters for Plan which will contribute over 16.1 million euros to their work. After the campaign, the Norwegian Government announced that Norway will take an international lead in the fight against child marriage.
Watch Plan Norway's case movie for #stopthewedding below.
Main image: PLAN Norway
#stopthewedding was the winner of the NGO category at the 2015 European Excellence Awards, hosted by Communication Director. Held annually in cities across Europe, the European Excellence Awards honour outstanding achievements in the field of PR and communications.The full list of winners can be found here.