The first Grand Prix will hopefully not be the last

The first Grand Prix will hopefully not be the last

Turkey is not a country well known for its creativity. If I ask readers of this newspaper to name three aspects of Turkey, most probably anything related to creativity won’t make it to the list. 

However, Turkish advertising agencies are working hard to change this. A few weeks ago I wrote about a digital rooted Turkish agency acquiring Grey Istanbul. This week I am very glad to write about the first ever Cannes Grand Prix award that Turkey won. 

According to Business Insider, the winning media campaign at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was the Vodafone “Red Light Application/Between Us” initiative from WPP’s Y&R Istanbul, with support from Mindshare in the region.

One in every three women is the victim of domestic abuse in Turkey, so Vodafone and its team created the Red Light app through which women in trouble can secretly seek help from three friends by shaking their phones. The function is hidden and disguised in a flashlight app. 

Because the team couldn’t promote the app through TV commercials, outdoor ads or radio, the app was advertised using online cosmetic tutorials, ladies-room posters, and female products like wax strips and underwear.

The app, which was registered at Cannes under an alias in order to protect its identity from men, allows women to call for help just by shaking their smartphones. Instructions on how to find and use the app are deeply embedded in videos and content targeted for women, intentionally designed to be so gender-specific that men never find the app. 

More than 250,000 women have downloaded the app, constituting 24 percent of all women in Turkey who use smartphones. To date, it has been activated over 103,000 times.

I congratulate the team behind the project. Now what we need to do as advertisers and society as a whole is to learn from their experience. We can congratulate them and analyze what they did right. After that, we need to make sure that other teams can repeat the same success. 

I hope that this will lead more people to think out of the box. After all, this is a country where elders tell young people that when they have a different idea, do not make an invention. Let’s change that.