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What are you wearing?

What are you wearing?

09 March 2015 | Liz Bowen

Ah, #Dressgate. Still? I hear you ask. Yes, still.

Because #TheDress has become the latest example of how a Twitter trend can be hijacked and used for good. I’m not just talking about the quick thinking work of Roman Originals’ PR team here – the makers of said dress who have now created a limited edition white and gold version and are now auctioning the thing on eBay to raise money for Comic Relief.

That’s good, well done them. But it’s another marketing team who deserve our praise this week and that’s the Salvation Army.

On Friday, the Salvation Army’s latest advert went viral. It pictured a woman wearing the infamous white and gold dress but she was quite clearly wearing black and blue too, they just happened to be bruises rather than inches of material.

The advert is aimed at raising awareness of domestic violence and features the powerful slogan “why is it so hard to see black and blue?”

For many of us, this seemingly simple question was perplexing enough last week. For someone like me, who could (and still can) only see the dress as white and gold, I am utterly baffled that my friends and colleagues could see black and blue, even though I’ve seen the real picture and yes, it is, in fact black and blue. It’s a conundrum.

Well, the Salvation Army has hijacked that seemingly oh so simple question and suddenly it’s not so simple anymore.

The key to this campaign is its simplicity. In stark contrast to the original, there is no illusion or science at play here. The bruises are visible for everyone to see, it’s a case of whether or not you want to.

Similarly, to coincide with International Women’s Day, a signpost went up first in London, then Birmingham and London again. It showed a woman with bruises on her face and the slogan next to her read “Look at me”. This particular campaign is by Women’s Aid.

Like the Salvation Army, the key here is in the ad’s simplicity. Unlike the Salvation Army though, there was illusion at play here. Not the “is there/isn’t there” type of illusion, but proof that we have a right to these women not to stand there and ignore the obvious.

Using counters, the ad was able to monitor the number of people who looked at it. The more people looked, the more the woman’s bruises disappeared.

Both adverts are so uncompromising as to make us uncomfortable and therefore raise awareness of a terrible truth. Not just the fact that 1 in 6 women is a victim of domestic abuse, but also the fact that if you saw it or knew about it, would you do anything to help or would you simply turn a blind eye?