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In the Name of Salvation An Army Adorns the Dress: Misuse and Domestic Abuse.

Salvation Army saw their opportunity and slipped into the wake of The Dress 

The poster caused a storm of discussion, and what better way to measure a campaigns success; as long as people are talking about it, it’s a job well done…Right? Maybe for most brands and businesses, but the path charity treads must be tip-toed with caution. It must not be forgotten that, even though charities often fight for their cause on the front-line, they are still a third party and therefore have a responsibility to offer tactful representations of the victims they wish to help.

The posters were created for the Salvation Army South Africa to add to their campaign against domestic violence. Both images depict well groomed, generically “Attractive” white woman whose attire unfortunately leans towards the “Upper” classes. The results of the 2011 South African national census confirmed that only 8.9% of the country’s population were white, which of course shouldn’t matter in post-modern society; however the country’s cultural history means that advertisers must take care to fairly represent the nation. Having only released two adverts, it seems it would only require common sense to suggest they diversify their message.

White woman applying make up, caption reads 'Because they cover it up with white and gold'
thesalvationarmy.org

The classic damsel in distress is too often portrayed by pretty white woman and this is an insult to all involved. Not only does the prioritising of white women harm every other ignored, under-represented demographic you could possibly think of. But it also aids in maintaining the stereotype that white women are precious, delicate flowers, forever the victim in need of perpetual help and protection.

Their arguable misuse of the dress has shone a spotlight on the ethical issues that surround charitable advertising.  Personally, I think Sarah Jackson from Kestrel Copy hits the nail on the head in her concise blog post on the topic, where she states:

“Shocking visual imagery might get people’s attention, but focusing exclusively on physical violence to make an impact masks the complexity of domestic abuse.”

Woman wearing The Dress, with visible bruises and caption 'Why is it so hard to see black and blue?'
thesalvationarmy.org

Free awareness is something hard to come by. So when an enigmatic dress trends into fashion it only seems right that a charity, of all organizations, should chase the limelight and slip it on.  However we may feel about their use of the dress and the messages and representations their ads contain, we can be glad that the Salvation Army has provoked people to talk about these topics

Leo Donnelly

Ever wondered what would happen if you gave a half-crazed, semi-concussed, unstoppable maverick a platform to write about social media? Follow him @LeoAtSMF

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In the Name of Salvation An Army Adorns the Dress: Misuse and Domestic Abuse. Reviewed by Leo Donnelly on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 Rating: 5
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