Friday, August 1, 2014

Vancouver Transit Police apologize for victim-blaming ad

Another day, another ad campaign accused of blaming sexual assault victims. But this one has a positive lesson in it.

According to CBC, Vancouver Transit Police have agreed to remove this ad from Skytrain, following public complaints.

Transit Police spokesperson Anne Drennan stated that the victim-blaming was entirely unintentional, but added, "we see where they are coming from."

I work on campaigns like this, too, so I can see how this happened. The Copywriter was trying to use a clever turn of phrase, but didn't consider the unintended triggering of the word "shame" in the context. Neither did the client.

To their credit, however, Vancouver Transit Police have responded in a way that should be a teachable moment to other authorities creating campaigns that address the issue of sexual assault, either directly or indirectly.

First, they apologized with an acknowledgement that the wording could cause unintended harm. Then, they committed to removing the ads and replacing them with "new posters with wording approved by an advisory council that includes representatives from women's support groups."

Understand, apologize, fix the problem and show how you'll avoid it in the future. Is that so hard?

1 comment:

  1. "Nobody should...say anything that makes you feel...uncomfortable." ??
    Are you sure this isn't in the U.S.?
    Again illiteracy and lack of reasoning skills rule the day. A problem arises, and is solved, and no party involved draws an actual definition of the real problem and solution. Feelings are hurt, apologies proffered, policy rewritten- Without any clear, concise delineation of any of it.
    Making a play on words by a backhand reference to the stigma and self-shame of sexual assault victims is very, very distasteful. But the serious harm here is denigrating the feelings of shame of the victims by implying that their feelings of shame are not "real".