women's aid spot the abuse by engine

Engine creates "Spot the Abuse" quiz show for Women's Aid

TV ad highlights the impact of coercive control

By Creative Salon

Engine has unveiled a new campaign for Women’s Aid highlighting how signs of coercive control can be hard to spot. The ad is timed to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25th November).

Styled as a bright and brash TV quiz show called ‘Spot The Abuse’, it features three smiling female contestants - Jade from Bournemouth, Aisha from London and Kate from Hertfordshire - being asked questions about relationships by a gameshow host.

The aim of the campaign is to educate people about the signs of coercive control by using the popular format of a TV game show - albeit one where the questions are anything but entertaining - to demonstrate that women often don’t realise their relationship is abusive and that they’re victims of coercive control, as their partners tell them that their controlling behaviour is normal.

While it’s been illegal since December 2015, records of coercive control offences have been steadily rising. Police recorded 24,856 coercive control offences in England and Wales in the year ending March 2020, a huge rise of more than 50% from the 16,679 recorded the previous year.

The pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. Within the first two weeks of lockdown alone, there was a 41% increase in users visiting the Women’s Aid Live Chat site to seek help on the issue.

The ad, which will be pushed out across social channels, aims to highlight that domestic abuse isn’t always physical and that coercive control can happen gradually in a relationship with a pattern of behaviours that you may not initially identify as abusive, but when put together create a web of control.

This point is clearly made from the outset of the ad, as the quiz host launches proceedings with the question: “Your partner often tells you what to wear and gets moody if you don’t agree. Is this normal?” Jade buzzes in quickly, answering: “Yes! Definitely!” to be told by the host: “That’s the wrong answer! It’s actually a kind of controlling behaviour.”

The next question is: “Your partner won’t let you have a bank account as he says you’re no good with money. Do you think that’s okay?”

Kate buzzes in with a definitive: “Yes!” to be told it’s another wrong answer by the host. “This is not usual or normal behaviour in any relationship,” he adds, as the contestants are shown looking increasingly uncomfortable.

For his final question, the host says: “Your partner has a right to stop you going out with your friends and family because he says he worries about you when you’re out. Is this okay?” Aisha buzzes in with a confident: “Yes, that’s okay. Right?” To which the host replies: “Oh I’m sorry, that’s the wrong answer. If your partner isolates you from friends or family, that is coercive control.”

The female contestants are shown looking unsettled before the camera pans out to show their male partners sat in the audience.

The two-minute-long spot ends with the call to action: “Many of us struggle to spot the signs of coercive control. What your partner says is normal might not be. www.womensaid.org.uk Women’s Aid - until women & children are safe.”

The campaign is being launched on 25 November, the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Farah Nazeer, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said: “We hope this ad will raise awareness and start important conversations about controlling behaviour in relationships. Greater awareness and understanding of the behaviours that make up coercive control means that more people will be able to identify it, prevent it and prosecute it.”

Christopher Ringsell, Creative Director at Engine Creative, said: “Educating people about Coercive Control through the lens of a Gameshow is an unusual and powerful juxtaposition.

The glitzy lights, cheesy soundtrack and shiny world is not the normal place to communicate the harsh realities of domestic abuse but the format is perfect to land questions and answers around controlling behaviours.”

The spot was made for Women’s Aid pro bono by Engine.


Agency: Engine

Creative Directors: Christopher Ringsell & Jo Moore

Creative: Antonia Clayton

Head of Film: Melody Sylvester

Senior Producer: Laura Melville

Producer: Sabrina May

Assistant Producer: Henry Davies

Logo Design: Hugo Isaacs

Account Management: Marianne Roberts, Eve Bui

Senior Strategist: Katherine Morris

Production Company: Missing Link Films

Director: Alicia MacDonald

Producer: Ben Link

Executive Producer: Heather Link

Production Manager: Sorcha O’Sullivan

DOP: Sam Goldie

1st AD: Tom Reynolds

Production Designer: Matthew Rice

Hair Make up: Holly Miller

Costume: Joanna Valmai Wills

Casting: Sasha Robertson Casting

Editor: Rachael Spann/Rebecca Quinn @Work Editorial

Post-Production: Absolute

Colour : Juliette Wileman

2D Artist : Ben Robards

Animation : Lawrence Scanlon & Hugh Loughrey

Executive Producer : Sally Heath

Producer: Ollie Ireland

Sound: Jungle

Sound Engineer: Ben Leeves

Music: Audio Network

Stock: Shutterstock


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