Amnesty International

“It’s not happening here, but it’s happening now” This Amnesty International Switzerland poster campaign puts the issue of human rights and abuse literally right in front of the viewer’s eyes. This award winning campaign, created by advertising agency, Walker, based in Zurich, consisted of 200 individual posters with a scene of human rights abuse from around the world with the background matching the surroundings exactly. Advertising campaigns for ‘’touchy’’ subjects are never easy, Puis Walker wanted to create a campaign that didn’t create ‘’drama’’ on a serious issue of human rights.  “Advertising for touchy subjects doesn’t profit from exaggeration. What was needed here was the simplest truth being told in the simplest way. Something no one can argue with is harder to ignore” -Puis Walker (

What this campaign does brilliantly is exactly what Walker set out to do, create something you can’t ignore, that human rights abuse is going on around the world, the campaign’s strapline “It’s not happening here, but it’s happening now” shows the viewer that while we might not be directly affected by this issue and we might not be witness’ to this issue, other people are and it’s happening now. The backgrounds of the posters mimic the viewer’s surroundings, again putting emphasis on the fact that this issue is currently going on while we go about our everyday lives, waiting for our bus or walking down the street. Scenes of issues as serious as human rights abuse juxtaposed with local surroundings, surroundings that the viewers of these campaigns are not aware of and not exposed to do not have the same affect, we see them on the news, they’re terrible of course but we are not exposed to that environment, it does not directly affect us and so terribly it does not seem as big of an issue, by creating a scene going on in the viewer’s familiar surroundings, it makes them realise that this is not okay, if they were to witness these acts of violence they would be horrified, making them realise it is no different if it is going on in their own town or another country.

The images used for the campaign were taken by reporters who had actually witnessed the scenes, because of the images realistic horror, they caused some controversy, would parents be offended when seeing these images as they take their children to school? Of course some might be. However this is the effect of the campaign that is so strong. They’re real and it’s a real issue going on, why would be cower away from this issue? Surely the hard hitting images of abuse need to be released to make people aware of the issue and more likely to stand up against it.

These 200, bold, effective posters were created by only two graphic designers in the space of three weeks. The main issue they faced was “a technical issue when photographing the background settings, Walker recalls. ‘As the poster frames themselves could not be dismantled for the shot, we had to find a way to photograph the background from the visual point of the viewer, without having the actual poster frame covering it. It took a couple of days to figure out.’”  Clearly they overcame any issues faced, as the final posters appear to be very realistic, at a glance it is hard to tell if the background is a photograph of if it is clear and only the foreground image is actually there.

The campaign, only released in Switzerland, created a global impact, talked about on over 400 blogs and creating media coverage in countries as far as Brazil, India and New Zealand, the campaign did exactly what they set out to do, raise awareness of this issue, not glaze over it or dramatize it, just simply give the viewers the facts and information in as simple a way as possible, causing global discussions about the campaign and awareness of the serious issue.

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