Be an Honourable Warrior

This Life is a small, independent NGO working directly with Cambodian children, families & communities to overcome challenges such as poverty, poor educational opportunities, crime, addiction and domestic violence. We support them to achieve progress in this life.

Each year, our 3 person in-house communications team launches a 16 day campaign to reduce domestic violence in Cambodia. This ties in with the UN's global 16 Days Of Activism Against Gender Based Violence but is creatively independent and entirely driven by local culture. For 2019 we took the wildly popular sport of boxing and turned expectations on their head. By the end we reached 2 million people (1 in 8 of the population), while 15,000 people shared our campaign  and 24,000 took our online pledge to oppose violence.
We began with three clear objectives.
 
1)  Create a campaign creative, bold and culturally resonant enough to reach, engage and educate Cambodians - especially men - about domestic violence, inspiring a movement of "Honourable Warriors" determined to actively oppose it
 
2) Confront the 36% of men who've used violence against women, portraying it as "un-Cambodian", socially shameful & legally punishable
 
3) Grow our following, profile and influence, to enable us to do even more to create positive change in the future.
"There needs to be a mindset change in the Kingdom of Angkor" Facebook commenter, Siem Reap.
 

1) "BE AN HONOURABLE WARRIOR" CASE STUDY

1 in 3 Cambodian men admit to using violence against women. Could social media kickstart a movement for change?

 
 
"This type of campaign is what Cambodian society needs." Facebook commenter, Ratanakiri Province.
 

2) THE CHALLENGES AND OUR CREATIVE SOLUTIONS

We faced two major challenges.
 
CHALLENGE 1 was cultural. 36% of Cambodian men *admit* to having used violence against women, reflecting lingering social attitudes teaching female subservience. Tragically, even 40% of victims of violence consider it "normal". Despite many previous campaigns, almost always focused on educating women, the problem lingered - so how could we change it?
 
Our insight, based on our social workers consulting with communities affected by violence, was change would only happen when men themselves were confronted, recognised the problem, and pledged to oppose it. However, in order to grab men's attention and get them to absorb a confrontational message without tuning out, we needed an instantly engaging creative concept which appealed to national pride and traditional values. Our solution was to create a campaign to harness male enthusiasm for a) the vast popularity of Kun Khmer boxing, shown almost continuously on 6 of Cambodia's main TV channels, and b) the historic Khmer Empire, which once ruled much of South-East Asia and created the famed Angkor Wat.
 
CHALLENGE 2 was financial. With a $4,500 budget how could we create the national impact necessary for lasting change?
 
Our insight was that social media's explosive growth in Cambodia could provide a powerful, cost-effective platform to reach and mobilise a population eager for change.  According to Hootsuite research in January 2019, 8.4 million now use social media, a growth of 20% in a year to reach over 50% of the population. Remarkably, Lotus Media research found that 79% of Cambodian Facebook users believe it “empowers me to support causes I care about”, compared to 53% globally. Our campaign needed to enlist admired, influential Cambodians to carry our message on our social media pages and their own.
"This is very meaningful and very straight to the point about domestic violence because the celebrities have more influence on users of violence. “Winning over a women is not done through violence, but through respect.'' Facebook commenter, Kampong Thom Province.
 
"I feel very emotional seeing this campaign because it shares an amazing vow that all citizens should uphold." Facebook commenter, Phnom Penh

3) Our strategy... AND THE BIG IDEA

Our strategy was to overcome the limitations of a three-person team and $4,500 budget by creating a campaign culturally resonant and powerful enough to "punch above its weight", achieve national impact through social media virality, and enlist men to pledge to oppose domestic violence.
 
The 16-day campaign tapped into Cambodia's pride in the ancient Khmer Empire, embodied in the proverb, "Cambodians carry the blood of warriors in their veins". Our campaign reclaimed this proverb and added an emphasis on honour, arguing that the Empire was built by "Honourable Warriors" protecting the vulnerable rather than hurting them. This tradition had been lost, and must be rediscovered, distilled into our slogan #BeAnHonourableWarrior. This resonated and was discussed in full page features in newspapers.
 
Our chosen Honourable Warrior was Chan Rothana, Cambodia's most beloved and admired sportsman, an international champion in Kun Khmer boxing. We created a short film showing an excited crowd waiting to see Rothana compete, only to be shocked by a twist - his opponent is revealed as a trembling, frightened woman. The audience begins to turn away and leave, horrified by the unfair fight until Rothana pulls off his boxing gloves and helps the woman. He's then awarded our specially-commissioned "Honourable Warrior" title belt.
 
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Viewers were then urged to:
 
1) Sign up to our online "Honourable Warrior" code, pledging to a) reject violence, b) to embrace respect and c) to bring up their children with the same values
 
2) Join a Facebook Group created to give Cambodians the space to actively share ideas on preventing violence.
 
3) Learn about the law on violence on our interactive campaign page.
We used social media tools such as Facebook frames featuring our iconic belt to build momentum and visibility, and amplified the campaign through endorsements from famous Cambodians are influential with men, including Chan Rothana, footballer Thierry Bin, singer Vuthea, rapper Reezy and more. They posed with the belt, delivered powerful messages of support and shared them on social media with their largely male fanbases.
Chan Rothana, boxer, wrote on his Facebook page: "I am very proud to have been part of this wonderful campaign as it is a cause I fully support... it is shocking that 1 in 3 men admit to using violence against women and it is time to stop it."
Thierry Chantha Bin, footballer, wrote: "It is our responsibility as Cambodian men to transform our society into a place where women are safe from violence."
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Honourable Warrior Facebook Group for Cambodians who want to be active in opposing violence

 

4. EXECUTION

STEP 1

Developing the "Honourable Warrior" code with our domestic violence team, and bringing it to life with public content where people could pledge to obey the three rules, and a private Facebook Group for people to join if they wanted to take more direct collaborative action. The rules were: 1) never use violence against the vulnerable 2) always show respect 3) bring up children to follow the same rules.

STEP 2

Creating user-friendly campaign page on our website, featuring life-saving resources HERE. As well as our flagship video and campaign messages, this page included an easy-read version of the law on domestic video, the first audio version of the law (created in-house for people who cannot read), links to organisations who could help and a downloadable information pack.

STEP 3

Filming our flagship Honourable Warrior short film, which stayed low-budget thanks to supportive venues offering us free or discounted rates, and supporters and staff appearing as free extras. Our iconic orange Honourable Warrior belt was introduced in the video and would feature throughout the campaign as a motif bringing readers and viewers back to the campaign concept.
 

STEP 4

Recruiting a range of celebrity "Honourable Warriors" (working for free) and photographing them with our iconic belt. Although most of the influencers were aimed at men, such as boxer Chan Rothana, footballer Thierry Chantha Bin and rappers Reezy and Vitou, women were also represented by feminist star Catherine Harry, martial artist and actor Tharoth Sam and female rapper Sang Sok Serey.

STEP 5

Rolling out content in over 40 posts across all platforms over 16 days, including 
  • Our iconic belt as a Facebook profile frame
  • An online space to pledge to oppose violence
  • Real-life case studies of violent men, the harm they had done and regrets
  • Three live events in Cambodian communities
  • Shareable Top 10 facts on violence in Cambodia
  • "Tell A Friend Day" where people shared our film or materials with someone without Internet access.
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5. RESULTs

OBJECTIVE 1

ENGAGE AND INSPIRE CAMBODIANS, ESPECIALLY MEN.

The campaign was a viral sensation smashing all targets for under $4,500.

 

a) The campaign reached over 2 million Cambodians - 1 in 8 of the population

 

b) 1.3 million watched the video, 13,000 shared it

 

c) 24,250 publicly pledged online to follow the "Honourable Warrior" code of non-violence in the future

 

d) 48,800 people liked, loved or "wowed" the video on Facebook

 

e) 15,000 people shared campaign materials overall

 

f) 1,130 took the further step of joining the private Facebook Group of "Honourable Warriors" committed to working together to end violence in the future

 

g) hundreds of Cambodian men and women took part in online discussions on how to end violence, creating some of the busiest comments pages we've seen in Cambodia

 

h) 75% of the Honourable Warriors Group said in a poll that the campaign inspired them to do more to end violence

 

OBJECTIVE 2

CONFRONT MEN WHO USE VIOLENCE

a) 66.3% of our video viewers were men between 18 and 34, statistically those likeliest to commit violence

 

b) 2,180 people visited our interactive page on the law to get expert help

 

c) we created an online debate where a tiny minority of men defending domestic violence were confronted by others persuading them to change, bringing a taboo subject into the open and planting the seeds of change

OBJECTIVE 3

GROW TLC'S PROFILE

a) social media following grew by 30%, with 10,000 new followers on Facebook alone

 

b) campaign generated widespread coverage in online and print media, including Cambodia's most influential English-language newspaper here , most popular Khmer-language website here and many boxing websites

 

c) major international organizations were impressed enough to ask to use video for their own public education efforts, including the United Nations and Australian Police.

"Women should not experience violence. Your wives are like your mother, sister, and daughter. #hateviolence." Facebook commenter, Prey Veng.

"I will help spread the message and awareness on domestic violence and will never use violence." Facebook commenter, Prey Veng Province 

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