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One we made earlier – Cat calls and public awareness campaigns

When the ice bucket challenge began to thaw amid accusations of charities either ‘borrowing without permission’ or stealing the idea from one another, it brought an ongoing argument in the creative industries to the fore. Just who owns what when it comes to big ideas, and how far should intellectual property really go?
The jury is, of course, still out. Well, kind of anyway. Whilst some may honestly believe that once a campaign concept is in the public realm it belongs to the people who first conceived it, the majority of right-minded individuals understand that in industries such as the media there are very few truly original thoughts flying around.
That’s no indictment of our trade, more an acceptance of the fact that if you do this kind of thing for a living chances are you spend a lot of time immersed in the work of others because it interests you. And, once seen, it’s impossible to erase a memorable effort ahead of the next brainstorming session.
This week a new video has been doing the rounds filmed in Auckland, the biggest city (but, note to self, not the capital) of New Zealand. It features an attractive female model, Nicola Simpson, dressed in relatively normal attire, walking the streets whilst being filmed in a bid to capture what everyday life is like for the average woman. Take a look:
It’s a direct reference to a similar experiment that took place in New York, where actress Shoshana Roberts was recorded on video out and about in the Big Apple. Again, what she wears isn’t relevant, or rather it is entirely relevant that she isn’t wearing anything suggestive. Even so, during the course of a day she is ‘catcalled’ no less than 108 times by passing men, eager to get her to hand over some digits or offer some kind of verbal response. Here it is again if you’re not one of the millions that have seen and shared:

Mashable perhaps summarised the difference best:
In New Zealand, model Nicola Simpson wearing a casual sweater, jeans and sneakers, captures barely anyone’s attention. The most dramatic moment is when an Italian guy chases her down to ask if she is from Italy before apologising for stopping her. Another man asked her for directions.
It is a tale of two cities. Auckland has a population of around 1.3 million while NYC is filled with more than 8.4 million. New York is a melting pot of cultures and types of people, where Auckland is mainly filled with, well, people from Auckland.
Well, OK, perhaps there are some rather serious assumptions being made here, and the opposing view could well be “we were shocked at the New Zealand video, given the fact boys will be boys wherever you go- which is be no means acceptable.”
Needless to say, that sounds rather presumptuous. Or at least it would if we hadn’t conducted the same experiment for one of our own public awareness campaigns on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government, whilst working with Access Advertising back in 2010, on the streets of Cardiff; a city of 346,100 residents (within the unitary authority area), and, according to the 2011 census, an 84.7% white population.
Hardly the melting pot of NYC (44.6% white- 2006-2008 American Community Survey for the U.S. Census), and close to the same demographics found in Auckland, nevertheless the evidence speaks volumes about the true prevalence of sexism and sexual harassment, and, perhaps, how polite New Zealanders were towards women on the day of filming, in comparison with these other test towns. Take a look at the video, One Step Too Far, here.

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