Salvation Army uses popular dress to raise awareness about domestic violence

March 19th, 2015



White and gold. Black and blue. The world was divided into these two groups when a multicolored controversial dress went viral earlier this month. The debate captured the attention of social media users and news outlets. One organization took advantage of the popularity to advocate an issue.


The Salvation Army South Africa created an advertisement depicting a woman on her side in the white and gold dress, covered in bruises. The advertisement, which was posted on the organization’s Twitter account on March 6 was captioned, “Why is it so hard to see black and blue? One in six women are victims of abuse. #StopAbuseAgainstWomen.” The text within on the ad addressed victim-blaming saying, “The only illusion is if you think it was her choice.”


A second ad on the organization’s Twitter page showed a woman using makeup to cover up the cuts and bruises on her face with the text reading, “Because they cover it with white and gold. Majority of women who are abused never report it. If you are in need of, or know someone who needs help, contact us on 0117186745.”

Salvation Army 'That Dress' domestic violence campaign - 06 Mar

Ireland/Davenport, a South African creative agency, made the PSA for the Salvation Army and took advantage of the power social media has on the world today. The concept was created in less than 24 hours free of charge. Ireland/Davenport creative director Wihan Meerhloz told ABC News, “Our creative team brainstormed ways to send a greater message about overlooked abuse against women using the dress.”


With 17,000 retweets and 8,200 favorites (as of March 15), positive messaging via social media to raise awareness for serious issues like domestic violence can make a difference. The Salvation Army campaign highlights the devastating impact of violence against women around the world, which is often overlooked.


Several John Carroll University students had positive things to say about the advertisement.


“I think it was a great idea because everyone heard about the dress and the vivid picture really made you stop and think,” said sophomore Haley Kocisko. “I was amazed at how quickly they developed that campaign and the use of statistics to accompany the picture made it more powerful.”


Senior Emma O’Donnell also provided positive feedback about the campaign. “When I saw it I was incredibly impressed. I think so many times we are afraid to come out and say things or speak out about important issues like domestic violence, because it makes us uncomfortable. But the reality of the situation is it could happen to anyone. The Salvation Army was able to channel an important message through something everyone was talking about.”


Editor’s Note: Information from, and The Huffington Post was used in this article.