Heard the one about the Peruvian singer who released a song written by a murderer?
I’m not surprised if you have – it won Gold at Cannes Lions last week. But if the title of the campaign turns heads, the concept behind it will grab you by the b*lls.
When women’s charity Vida Mujer wanted to raise awareness of the alarming rates of domestic violence against women in Peru, they turned to creative agency Circus Grey Peru, to develop a campaign focused around coercive, charming behaviour often used by men to tempt their partners back after leaving.
The concept, on the face of it, seems so simple. Yet so effective.
Work with one of the most famous male singers in Peru, a man who is adored by women throughout the country.
Ask him to record and release a love song, which subsequently went straight to number one with its sentimental and romantic lyrics.
Following the song’s success, said male singer reveals that all the lyrics were taken from a real love letter from a domestic violence perpetrator to his wife.
Announce the heartbreaking news that having received the letter, the wife returned to her husband, only to be murdered just six days later.
Directly tell women that this exact behaviour is directly correlated to abuse. That there should be no second chances. That women shouldn’t go back, despite the romance that can play out.
The campaign split judges at Cannes, and being honest, at first, I also drew a breath when reading the idea.
The people who bought the song surely must have felt manipulated, used and devastated. The true premise was only announced after the song was released – what about the radio presenters who praised the song, or the women who had told their friends how great the lyrics were.
And there, in that last sentence, lies the reason this campaign is so brutally effective:
“The women who had told their friends how great the lyrics were.”
The same audience that tell their friends “he’s been so romantic, he won’t do it again”.
It’s no wonder this campaign won at Cannes. Over 125,000 people shared the campaign socially, and media and social coverage reached 8.2million. It’s positive effect on DV awareness is easy to see.
Having worked with Refuge – a domestic violence charity here in the UK, I know the impact that campaigns like this can have, not only on the women themselves, but on friends, family and colleagues who may be able to spot signs.
In the UK, one in four women is abused during her lifetime, one in nine is severely physically abused each year and shockingly, two are killed each week by their partners.
In Peru, 482 women in Peru have been killed by their partners in the last 4 years.
If Love Song by a Murderer helps just one woman realise that words can be false, that’s what matters.