Advertising executive fights horror of rape

Karen McVeigh reports on a designer's mission to destroy the myths and expose the reality of a brutal crime

While raising a few smiles and filling out queues in lingerie departments were the main aims of the controversial Wonderbra posters, the next campaign from the man behind the advertisements carries a much more serious message.

Using a series of posters, postcards and stickers, Trevor Beatty, creative director of the TBWA advertising agency, is launching his own anti-rape campaign next month.

Posters carrying powerful slogans such as "Rape. When it happens to your mother, daughter, sister, girlfriend, buddy, cousin, niece, aunt, grandmother, wife, will you say she was asking for it?" are already creating controversy and debate in America, where they form part of a campaign masterminded by Charles Hall, of Chiat Day, TBWA's sister company in the United States.

Mr Hall, Chiat Day's creative director, was so incensed by a brutal assault on a close female friend that he began producing and fly-posting anti- rape stickers across Brooklyn and Manhattan. "I felt the need to attack the real problem - the perception that women want to be raped, that they ask for it and deserve it," he said.

He has since been inundated by offers to carry the campaign from various American media, and has just completed a number of anti-rape television commercials.

The project struck a chord with Mr Beatty, who also knew a close friend who had been attacked, and he decided to launch a campaign in Britain.

"It's purely personal," said Mr Beatty, "We both happen to know women who have had similar experiences." He described the campaign as "a cry from the heart".

Although no company logo will appear on the posters, financed by Mr Beatty himself, he is confident that his position at TBWA will generate sponsorship, and is currently talking to a production company about cinema advertisements.

Mr Beatty hopes to challenge the common misconception of the rape victim as "a bird in a mini-skirt who is asking for it", by using a series of images of rape victims, from pensioners, to "17-year-old homeless lads sleeping in doorways".

Using powerful slogans, he also wants to counteract the image that many people have of a rapist as "some bastard in a mask".

One of the American stickers reads: "In a recent University of California at Los Angeles study, 65 per cent of college-educated males said they would rape a woman if they thought they could get away with it. What percentage are you?"

Alison Shergold, from the Rape Crisis Centre in London, said she thought that the idea was "brilliant".

She added: "Rapists are everyday people who walk down the street. They could be our brother, our father, our uncle. Our statistics show that most rapists are known to the victim."

Mr Beatty said he had been criticised by people who have accused him of inviting rape by showing erotic images of women. However, he is currently negotiating with the company to allow him to use the Wonderbra images in the campaign. "Once people are attracted by the image, we will turn it on its head and make people think," he said.

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