HOW A SINGLE TWEET WOKE AN INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
In 2013, we were commissioned to promote Stockholm Pride, the organisation behind promoting LGBTQ issues in Sweden and, among other things, organisers of the country’s annual Pride festival. The festival attracts a large number of visitors and gets a lot of attention. Although Sweden might be considered ahead of the curve when it comes to in terms of tolerance and respect for all compared to other countries, we can always do more. With a limited budget, we needed to highlight Stockholm Pride's position as a community actor, and strengthen the world’s commitment to LGBTQ issues – while also increasing the number of visitors to Stockholm Pride.
THE BRUTALLY SIMPLE SOLUTION
In Sweden, equal rights are a norm we actively strive for. But jump on a plane and fly a few hours due east of Sweden and the situation looks very different. In Russia, LGBTQ people live in fear of violence and threats everyday. In 2012, a Moscow court ruled to refuse all petitions for LGBTQ parades for a hundred years. This single act generated very little media attention in Sweden or the rest of the western world. Could we find a way to shed light on the issue with Stockholm Pride as the sender? The solution was the campaign "#gowest". Using Twitter as the hub, we created the site.
Gowest2013.com where you could create an invitation to Stockholm Pride, which was translated into Russian. The invitation was sent on Twitter, geo-tagged with a city in Russia. The tweet was then sent in Russian, "from inside" Russia, as the goal was to become a trending topic on Russian Twitter. We called on decision makers, artists, business profiles, authors, politicians and journalists to use the site and the hash tag "#gowest" in their social media. The Russian tweets stuck out in the users' Twitter feeds here at home, creating a conversation and encouraging people to take a stand. Every single tweet became an important part of the work to get people to notice Stockholm Pride and its message of tolerance and love.
THE RESULT: A DRAMATIC MEASURABLE CHANGE
The goal was reached after just three days: "#gowest" trended on Russian Twitter!
Alexander Bard, Emma Green and a number of international celebrities supported by Boy George and Tilda Swinton. Even the Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweeted about the situation in Russia calling it “disgusting and inhuman”. Over 18,000 people tweeted from the site and even more referred to the situation in Russia with the hash tag #gowest. We achieved around 9 million impressions in total. Stockholm Pride was mentioned in the media 10 times more than the same period the year before, and the 2013 Pride festival broke all attendance records. But most importantly: "#gowest" became the start pistol for an international (re) awakening of LGBTQ rights in general and the situation in Russia in particular. And the debate that followed led to a number of other initiatives to support LGBTQ activists in the fight against negativity.
By looking beyond our borders, and creating a simple, smart and cost effective campaign, we managed to not only attract a record number of visitors to Stockholm Pride, we also focused on a relatively unknown humanitarian issue, which can literally be the difference between life and death in some areas of the world.