The Platform


The Indonesian government has finally passed a sexual violence bill. This is a significant moment for Indonesian society. It is estimated that in 2021, there were 4,500 cases of violence against women. This is nearly double from 2020.

It shouldn’t be overlooked how a beauty company led to this moment. The Body Shop, a British company, and in particular, the Body Shop Indonesia, was heavily involved in the effort to pass this legislation. The Body Shop initiated a petition which gained hundreds of thousands of signatures. A YouTube campaign also gained significant traction and was instrumental in the passage of the legislation.

The key to the passage of the legislation was an emotional message and repetition. Supporters of the legislation utilized two communication strategies: the viral hashtag #StopSexualViolence and “No! Go! Tell!”

To craft emotional storytelling, brands need to provide a context to their targeted audience. The Body Shop Indonesia launched a microsite that serves as a platform to share personal stories of survivors of sexual violence. Through this platform, survivors of sexual violence are given the space to tell their struggles. The Body Shop Indonesia also provides a quiz in the form of a role play where visitors were asked to decide whether a story constitutes sexual violence or not.

Various stories of sexual assault survivors are also narrated. The Body Shop Indonesia chose to use explicit language to leave a strong emotional impression on its audience. The Body Shop Indonesia uses this microsite as a platform to build an emotional connection between the audience and survivors. The company wants its audience to feel what the survivors of sexual assault feel.

The company also invited Kartika Jahja, an Indonesian artist and women’s rights activist, who is a survivor of sexual violence. Kartika Jahja was invited by the Body Shop Indonesia to share her past story for other survivors to hear on social media. Through this mechanism, Kartika Jahja’s story is shared to send a strong message to survivors that they are not alone.

Moreover, to educate and increase public awareness, the Body Shop Indonesia also persuaded the public to be involved, while maintaining its brand presence. As a leading beauty company that is proficient in campaigning for social issues, it carefully collaborates the emotional message of its campaign with the promotion of one of its products. The issues raised in their corporate social action aligned with their customers.

The Body Shop Indonesia also conducts a shop and donation mechanism where every customer can automatically donate towards the campaign to end sexual violence. This mechanism is a strategy to show an easy impression to customers where they can be directly involved in the campaign.

Even during the pandemic, the company launched “Shoes in Silence to Stop Sexual Violence,” where the company collected donated shoes and lined them up in front of the House of Representatives as a form of silent protest. The CEO of the Body Shop Indonesia said that the shoes displayed are a symbol of support for the entire community who were unable to attend. After the campaign is over, the shoes that have been collected will be donated to foundations in need. Furthermore, this action was adopted into a virtual tour featuring clothes and shoes that represent the personal stories of survivors.

Some naysayers might consider the actions of the company opportunistic, but whatever their motives, their efforts along with countless others were instrumental in seeing the legislation passed.

Kenny Meigar is a Public Relations practitioner from Indonesia. He holds a B.A. in International Relations from Universitas Islam Indonesia. He is currently a Public Relations Consultant in Indonesia. His interests are strategic communications, media relations, and PR writings.