Amnesty’s Amazing Ads Jason 07 Jun 2006

52 comments Latest by Jon

Amnesty Ads

Amnesty International launched a new ad campaign that is incredibly creative and powerful. The tagline is “It’s not happening here but it’s happening now” which is hammered home with these transparent ads. The ads “transport” issues in countries like Iraq, China, and Sudan to your local landscape. This is one of the best awareness campaigns I’ve ever seen. [Thanks jk]

52 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Tory 07 Jun 06


Rida Al Barazi 07 Jun 06

The transparent ads are really very creative, massive and touching.. I think they will get a very good reaction from the street. I wish I could see one live…

P.S. jk link requires correction :)

Tory 07 Jun 06


StartLaunch 07 Jun 06

Those are amazing in so many ways.

Drew Pickard 07 Jun 06

Are they just images on a transparent sheet?
Hard to tell how they were done …

vonMises 07 Jun 06

Disgusting… all the wrongdoing in Iraq is performed by American soldiers on hapless prisoners? Where’s the imagery of people in shorts getting their legs cut off, of women with uncovered faces shot in the head, of beheaded Westerners?

Amnesty is far below zero credibility for me, they are openly The Enemy.

blah 07 Jun 06

the kid holding the AK-47 in the 2nd picture down needs to work on his trigger discipline.

most countries not predominated by white people are absolute shitholes and no amount of pity or foreign aid will make it better, it’s a result of the local culture.

Marc Hedlund 07 Jun 06

Those are outstanding.

Josh Pigford 07 Jun 06

vonMises…what are you talking about…I don’t see a single American soldier.

Bill P 07 Jun 06


This concept will be copied by everyone.

Killian 07 Jun 06

I thought the SvN community would be more open minded than the comments displayed from vonMises and blah. I am sorry to see that these comments have been posted on what is normally an intelligent blog. Basic human rights are something for everyone in the world to stand behind.

VonMises: The fact that US forces are violating human rights in Iraq is not part of a contest of who performs more violations. Your comment disgusts me and your attitude is sickening. Our forces should be setting an example not resorting to crude tactics.

Ara Pehlivanian 07 Jun 06

Brutal and effective. We need more ads like these!


ramanan 07 Jun 06

The SvN community is rarely open minded if we go by past experience here. (The thread on the Paris riots was full of bigotry and ignorance for example.)

These ads are brilliant.

Tom Richards 07 Jun 06

This is exactly the type of thing that us westerners need to be exposed to. It forces us to stop looking the other way, and accept that many horrible things are happening around the world. We are the only ones with the resources to help take steps to stop them.

I agree with ramanan, these ads are brilliant.

John Lewis 07 Jun 06

The ads are stunning and brilliantly executed. The effect is immediate and gripping, regardless of the client (AI).

I don’t think the technique will have as much impact for other subject matters. Seeing Mario jumping over a subway turnstyle isn’t going to have the same effect.

I wonder about the graffiti effect. I know that here the Silent Hill posters had smiling faces painted on them. What would people add to these? Perhaps VonMises will add American Flags to the soldiers.

Tony 07 Jun 06

Disgusting� all the wrongdoing in Iraq is performed by American soldiers on hapless prisoners?

I’m not sure where you get that. Which one of the persons dipicted above is an American soldier?

Kandace 07 Jun 06

Wow. You’ve helped get this much needed message out; I’m not sure I would have seen these ads otherwise. Thank you for posting this.

Jay Goldman 07 Jun 06

I don’t actually think the ads are transparent - most billboards have all kinds of lighting and support braces and whatnot inside so transparent ads wouldn’t really work. Also, one of the ads is on a phone booth which would have people in it all the time (it looks like it does in the photo actually) and they would ruin the effect. If you look really closely at the edges of the posters, they often don’t line up with the actual surrounding structures.

Nearest I can tell, they actually shot the empty view behind it, then Photoshoped the scene, then printed them for each location. Very expensive, but I can’t see how it would work otherwise.

Christopher Fahey 07 Jun 06

VonMises: None of the perpetrators in these images are Americans. You are imagining people attacking your political opinions when, in fact, they are not. If anything Amnesty is criticising the people you are also criticising, the brutal torturers in tons of different countries around the world. In case you weren’t aware, Amnesty fights for their rights more than anyone else, and if you give a shit about the suffering of anyone besides your favorite American politicians, you’d cut Amnesty a little slack. Get your head out of the echo chamber and stop trying to make it seem like you’re the victim here.

street 07 Jun 06

The ads are brilliant. I’ve seen this technique used before as an art project on a college campus, although for a much less striking purpose. Viewing the poster at any angle that wasn�t close to being straight on produced a weird, disorienting effect. At night it just looked like a big photo propoed up in a lawn. There also were reports of people walking into the poster (about 8’x10’ which was backed by plywood) and it was only left up for a couple of days since it was a student project.

giggles 07 Jun 06

That guy put ketchup on that ladies head with a stick!

bashon 07 Jun 06

It would be verging on the disingenuous to suggest that some of the figures in some of the pictures were not intended to be recognised as American. Of course, that doesn’t detract from the ads themselves.

Mike Swimm 07 Jun 06

@ vonMises

“Amnesty is far below zero credibility for me, they are openly The Enemy.”

I can’t believe I just read this.

Tell me vonMises, if AI is your enemy then who are your allies?

JT 07 Jun 06

VonMises and blah, this is what the apologists for our massive human rights violations have boiled down to: “other people are worse than us”. Great….hooray for us, we suck not as much as the absolute worst people on earth. We should be so proud of ourselves. We went from being the champions of democracy, liberty and human rights to being “not as bad as those guys”. These ads rock. They send the message with a bullet and nobody with an open mind can look at those and not be shocked.

filmnut 07 Jun 06

But the ads don’t specifically show how people can help. There is no hard call for action. I think they would be more effective with a tag line at the bottom that reads, “Please help. Call 1-800-Amnesty,” or something like that. The URL is not strong enough.

S 07 Jun 06

How would these ads have been portrayed back in WW2 if Amnesty were the same organization as they are today?

Would we see brutal pictures of American soldiers killing Nazis instead of them gassing the jews?

If we were fighting WW2 today we would all be speaking German next year.


Haditha 07 Jun 06

In WW2 they would have shown the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese were instantaneously wiped off the earth and many more died in the following years from the radioactive climate left behind by the bombings.

Christopher 07 Jun 06

For those curious to see them, like Rida Al Barazi; They’re located in Switzerland (some, if not all in Zurich) - this may have been already made obvious from Colin’s link to Walker’s website.

bashon 07 Jun 06

The imagery is effective. The tagline is clever. Certainly, it isn’t a jingle. Neither is about to change minds though - or at least not very many. While indubitably absurd it would be to suggest there won’t be anyone fortunate enough to get the chance to view these ads who won’t already believe the US are amongst, if not the, worst human rights violators on record.

rjb 07 Jun 06

19th century orientalism and u.s. slavery portraits comes to mind. As with the mentioned, this type of imagery usually reflects a strong divide among citizens.

Kate 07 Jun 06

Yes Blah. You’re absolutely right.

The U.S. was a load of fun during American Slavery. And so was Germany, when Hitler was in power. White nations should be the poster boys for justice and compassion.

Although I’m not so sure the citizens of many Eastern European countries of today would agree.

Paul Ducco 07 Jun 06

top concept.

good on them for going with such a delivery.

Christopher Fahey 07 Jun 06

I take back what I said — in part — since I didn’t click the link to see the Camp X-Ray images.

Still, I should point out that the Bush Administration relied on the hard work done by Amnesty International over the last several decades documenting and raising awareness of the human rights abuses practiced by Saddam Hussein. AI doesn’t descriminate.

If AI’s critiques of American human rights abuses seems to be extra loud, it’s only because of the shock value inherent in learning that a great nation like ours might behave so poorly — and that so many of our leaders would actually speak out in defense of torture.

Cameron Fleming 07 Jun 06

To bashon:

First of all, the direction of the comments on this article notwithstanding, I don’t think the campaign is intended as an attack on the American human rights record. I guess if one of the images is indeed from Guantanamo then the U.S. record is a part of it but I don’t think that’s the essential purpose of the campaign.

This isn’t an issue campaign. To me it basically looks like brand building. I don’t think anyone needs to be convinced that torture and human rights abuses go on in the world. What the ad does try to do (I think successfully) is remind people about what is going on in the world, right now, and engage them in such a way as to remind them that they can and must do something about it. To put it simply, this ad is about creating awareness for Amnesty International more than creating awareness of all the bad stuff that happens in the world.

People already know about that.

Jared White 07 Jun 06

Well, in regards to the ad campaign it’s brilliant. Regardless of my personal feelings regarding AI, I would say these ads are highly clever and very effective. I’m almost ready to pull out my wallet. :) (But not quite — there are other human rights groups I’d rather support.)

Kudos to the ad agency.

Pius Walker 07 Jun 06

First I’d like to thank you all for participating with your thoughts and views in regards to the new AI campaign in this and many other forums. That’s what we intended when creating this campaign. However we didn’t expect the magnetude of it’s reactions even after one week. Maybe two things to add: The campaign is showing various current human rights violations around the globe with the Guantanamo issue beeing just one of them out of about 200 different posters we did. On the technical side: All of the posters are unique, featuring their individual backgrounds as backdrops. The violation scene is composed into the backdrop picture. After printing when standing in front of the poster, the perspective illusion is complete.

Richard 08 Jun 06

“most countries not predominated by white people are absolute shitholes and no amount of pity or foreign aid will make it better, it�s a result of the local culture.”

Im I the only person who finds this comment completly offensive?

bashon 08 Jun 06

Ah America. Inward looking and outward acting. Just like any good empire.

Jonny Roader 08 Jun 06

Richard: no you’re not. It’s blatant racism.

scott brooks 08 Jun 06

The goals of advertisment / marketing campaign …..action.

This did it ….look at the conversations that it spurred in this forum. While not everyone has the same points of view …(some of the will never change thier warped ideas) ….it starts people talking. I find the images almost hard to look at ..yet i want to look at them more.



bashon 08 Jun 06

It might not even be too much to argue that, although merely ads they might be, they have that hint of eloquence, rather than rhetoric, which - as stimulating as the latter might be - is certainly pleasant to see. Or to paraphrase Eliot: Who is to tell us that we are not glad?

John Lewis 08 Jun 06

bashon, the US is not an empire. It’s much worse. It’s a Republic.

Stars Nackt 08 Jun 06

Damn, its horrable. But the thruth of this ads is, that many people klicks on it, cause they are shocked and interested in the content of them.

bashon 08 Jun 06

The selection from Abu Ghraib is not, perhaps, as horrifying as some of the other Abu Ghraib pictures available. Perhaps there is a limit beyond which ads dare, or should, not speak. It would seem unlikely that this was in the nature of a purely aesthetic judgment. Since the ads include current and various human rights violations which do not concern US excesses it’s interesting that these excesses appear to be more immediately recognisable. Although I’m not sure either the ad agency or AI should be blamed for that.

Hasan Diwan 08 Jun 06

vonmises , blah, you lot consider amnesty the enemy? We (Britain and the US) both have volunteer armies. Why don’t you volunteer for your respective country and go over to see the world? It’s fun to sit and criticise from the comfort of your flat or house with a pool and 2-car garage when you’ve never seen the places you speak of. It’s quite another to actually do something about it.

Amesty International is based somewhere in Europe (London, I believe); Britain is in the “coalition of the willing”, and it is patently sickening to me that such things go on anywhere in the world. Being a western human rights watchdog, AI will naturally focus on our wrongdoing, there’s Fox News to focus on theirs.

Jon 08 Jun 06

** YAWN ** Big deal, they’re just ads…

Jon 08 Jun 06

And, yeah, those images are very disturbing - who’d want to live in a nasty, hostile, inhospitable, inhuman urban environment like that? I’m so glad I don’t.