How the Salvation Army successfully redeemed #TheDress
A week after its first caused a worldwide Internet debate, #TheDress once again lit up social media today -- but this time everyone was talking about domestic violence.
That's because the South African branch of the Salvation Army tweeted an image of powerful new ad showing a model covered in bruises while wearing the now-famous gold and white version of the dress.
"Why is it so hard to see black and blue?" the tag line reads. "The only illusion is if you think it was her choice."
The campaign features the logo for Carehaven -- a home for abused women and their children run by the Salvation Army -- and explains that one in six women are victims of abuse.
It didn't take long for the ad to go viral, repurposing the trivial optical illusion into something far more meaningful.
Newsjacking -- when a brand takes advantage of a popular story or topic by inserting themselves in the news cycle -- is becoming an increasingly popular tactic for companies and nonprofits who want to coat-tail on on someone else's popularity.
But when brands attempt to harness viral content for their own purposes, the results are often cringe-inducing. The Salvation Army's tie-in with domestic violence makes striking the right tone exponentially harder.
Yet, while major brands like Oreo, Xbox, Lego and AT&T struggled to capitalize on #TheDress, the Salvation Army was the only one to hit the mark.
By Friday afternoon most major news outlets had run a story on the campaign and #TheDress was once again trending on twitter, proving that causes can successfully inject themselves into a popular story and get noticed.
In this case, the Salvation Army was able to redeem an otherwise inane question (what colour is the dress?) by changing the conversation entirely (will you recognize domestic violence and speak out?).