Stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and sex workers was still a huge problem in Southern Africa, when Dutch NGO, Hivos and The Global Fund asked us to help them overcome this. We brought together four LGBTQ+ networks and their member organisations across eight countries in Southern Africa to create their first ever joint campaign to tackle this issue.
Smashed coverage targets
Achieved a reach of almost 60 million people
Beat industry targets
Facebook engagement rate in South Africa was almost 7x the industry standard
Improved public sentiment
Public sentiment improved in the long-term in 7 out of the 8 countries
Informed by extensive research and a ‘do no harm’ approach, our Social & Behaviour Change Communications (SBCC) strategy was to role model the positive alternatives for LGBTQ+ people and sex workers. These included family members, friends, health workers, traditional leaders and religious leaders who had changed their minds over time to become supporters.
We worked with leading local activists to collect real life stories from communities to inform content: creating a radio drama; radio spots; social media; posters; leaflets; and YouTube videos. Identities were protected with voiceover artists and imagery that didn’t reveal faces due to the sensitivity of working in countries where being gay was often against the law.
Extending our reach in the global south
The Unheard Voices campaign was rolled-out in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe over the course of 42 months.
We leveraged the M&C Saatchi Group globally to run the local dissemination of our overarching idea, leveraging the mixed media SBCC country toolkits that we created.
In an independent endline survey, once the campaign was completed, participating Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) scored M&C Saatchi between 4-4.5 (5 being the highest) on being ‘collaborative’, ‘insightful’, ‘engaging’, ‘useful’, ‘creative’ and ‘respectful’. Most importantly the majority of CSOs, Media Champions and Sector Champions said the campaign had a positive impact on collaboration.
Creating positive public sentiment
Unheard Voices reached almost 50 million people through radio ads and radio dramas, over two phases on the campaign; and nine million unique users were reached on Facebook. For the first phase of the campaign, there was also an impressive average engagement rate for South Africa of 20.04%, compared to the industry standard of 3% on Facebook. Overall, we had 28,570 people visit the Unheard Voices website, to either read our stories or share their own. The campaign won a Silver award at the Account Planning Group (APG), which is the global professional organisation for communications planning and strategy.