How Viacom is bringing greater awareness to domestic violence and sexual assault

by Rahim Kanani | rahimkanani | Rahim Kanani Media Group, Inc
Thursday, 15 January 2015 03:04 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The Viacom Says NO MORE Anthem spot reached an audience of more than 91 million viewers. In addition, we generated over 18 million social media impressions around the NO MORE message by leveraging our social platforms. The awareness and engagement generated led to measurable impact,” explained Niels Schuurmans, Executive Vice President, Viacom Velocity Creative, about using their global media platform to bring greater awareness to issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. In an interview, we discussed why Viacom decided to get involved in this issue, the kinds of resources they’re bringing to bear, and the kind of impact their efforts have had thus far.

As the EVP Partner Content Creative Solutions - Viacom Velocity Group, Niels Schuurmans and his team are responsible for the ideation and execution of branded and partner integrated marketing creative content across the VIACOM Music and Entertainment groups.  

How did Viacom decide to get involved with bringing awareness and attention to the scourge of domestic and sexual violence?

As a company, Viacom has a deep heritage of pioneering the conversation around the issues affecting our audiences that aren’t being adequately addressed. We champion our role as groundbreakers, using our media platforms to make a difference. When the Joyful Heart Foundation came to us with the statistic that 1 in 3 women in their lifetimes will be affected by domestic abuse and sexual assault, we were blown away by the need to give voice to such a critical and relevant issue. We jumped at the opportunity to join the Foundation and the NO MORE movement, the first unifying symbol and social change movement for domestic violence and sexual assault, to end the silence and stigma around the issues using our deep connections with audiences to drive understanding and change.  

As a global media company, what kinds of audiences can you reach, and how much time and resources are being dedicated to putting a spotlight on these issues?

As a global media company, Viacom reaches diverse audiences all around the world, approximately 700 million global subscribers in more than 165 countries and territories. That's why it was so important to us to create distinct messages with a variety of Viacom's voices to connect with all of our fans. Viacom's social responsibility umbrella Viacommunity enlisted integrated marketing and creative content team Viacom Velocity to produce custom NO MORE PSAs for different networks, each uniquely speaking to viewers in a way that was right for them. Celebrities who offered their time and voices to the spots, directed by Joyful Heart founder Mariska Hargitay and photographed by Timothy White, include Dave Navarro, host of Spike’s Ink Master; Shad Moss and Keshia Chanté, co-hosts of BET’s 106 & Park; Nick Lachey, host of VH1’s Big Morning Buzz; MTV News correspondent Sway Calloway, and more. The NO MORE PSA campaign was developed in partnership with Y&R and photographer Timothy White.

The PSAs urge viewers to say NO MORE to some of the common excuses that are made for domestic violence and sexual assault, things like “well, he was drunk,” or “why didn’t she say anything?”                                              

The NO MORE “Anthem” spots ran across Viacom’s networks, including MTV, VH1, BET, Spike, TV Land and more throughout the summer of 2014. As our fans live in the digital and social space, those platforms were an integral part of our strategy. The PSAs were posted across our brands’ platforms, and audiences were encouraged to join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #ViacomsaysNOMORE. Last month, we released some of the candid and highly emotional outtakes that were captured during the PSA shoot. These unplanned outtakes became the newest series of NO MORE PSAs called “Speechless.” In addition to airing on Viacom networks, our brands and celebrities’ social platforms created a moment by coming together on one day to give voice to the issue.

How are you measuring the effectiveness of these kinds of campaigns, and how are you thinking about moving audiences from awareness to activism and action? 

Our goal is to empower and inspire activism by providing audiences with the information they need to take action. To do so, we focus on the metrics REI  -- Reach, Engagement and Impact around our campaigns. To amplify NO MORE’s reach, we sought to leverage as many of Viacom’s platforms as possible. The Viacom Says NO MORE Anthem spot reached an audience of more than 91 million viewers. In addition, we generated over 18 million social media impressions around the NO MORE message by leveraging our social platforms. The awareness and engagement generated led to measurable impact. From June 2014 to August 2014, when Viacom featured the spots, there was a 227% increase in page views for the NO MORE website. The campaign has also inspired other organizations to join the NO MORE coalition.  Over the last year, the number of organizations that have registered to become NO MORE Allies has increased 295% from 112 organizations in December 2013, to 442 organizations in December 2014. We are extremely proud of our impact to-date with Joyful Heart and NO MORE, and are committed to driving even greater change through our partnership going forward.