Refuge ‘Grow’ / BBH / Not to Scale / Universal Music UK
When advertising works, it is as inspiring as any other piece of creativity. You know its fundamental purpose is to sell you something. Its primary function doesn’t detract from that; the inspiration comes from how the ad sells you something, the story told to sell it and the way it’s executed. That said, when a fantastic campaign comes along that sells a cause rather than a pint of beer or incredibly soft toilet paper, advertising is undoubtedly at its most powerful. One such ad that delivers an important message superbly is the latest campaign from domestic violence charity Refuge, which the charity hopes will encourage women suffering abuse at the hands of their partners to seek help.
‘Grow’, by BBH, is a four-minute animated music video created in partnership with UK singer Frances and her record label Universal Music UK. To a soundtrack of Frances’ song of the same name, ‘Grow’ tells the story of a young woman in a violent relationship. Setting off for work in the morning, a menacing silhouette of a man stands at the window watching her. As she goes about her day, you realise that you can see through her; her transparency a powerful symbol of her feeling invisible, compounded as she tries and fails to interact with people around her.
She arrives home in the evening, and the foreboding silhouette remains in the window as if it hasn’t moved. The next morning, a broken mirror and hair brushed forward to cover the front of her face reveal what happened when she went inside. The next day passes like the one before, demonstrating a painful cycle conveyed cleverly by the scenes’ passing from right to left throughout the animation.
The day doesn’t the end the same way, however, as just as she summons the courage to walk through her own front door, a gentle hand is placed on her shoulder by a woman offering her a metaphorical umbrella. The young woman’s interaction with the Refuge worker inspires a transformation in her, and this time she walks past the door to her violent partner. At this point we see her no longer transparent but whole again, and with her social life back in full flow as she drinks with friends at the pub. At the end of the video, we see Melanie Clarke, a domestic violence survivor, smiling into a mirror similar to the one in the animation, letting us know that this is her story.
The film delivers its message powerfully through a fitting soundtrack and well-crafted animation from production company Not to Scale. The end result leaves you with a feeling of genuine insight into the life of somebody living in an abusive relationship, and it is one which, hopefully, will succeed in its mission to encourage women in similar circumstances to seek help.
Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said, ‘Refuge is delighted to partner with the very talented Frances. Her beautiful and poignant song 'Grow' is a perfect fit for this incredibly powerful video. Music is a powerful and effective way to reach people, especially younger people, with important messages. I am grateful to Frances and BBH for helping Refuge to bring this appalling crime out of the shadows, and I hope the 'Grow' video is watched and shared far and wide’.