Seeing Red is designed to provoke the most motivating human emotion: anger

adam&eveDDB and director Margot Bowman worked with a psychology expert to make the intense advert for Hey Girls as infuriating as possible, to incite action.

5 May 2021


A new campaign for social enterprise Hey Girls purposely intends on making viewers feel anger, in order to provoke action towards its mission to end period poverty. One in ten people in the UK lack safe access to period products due to financial or social constraints, and the issue surged in the pandemic. So the campaign film Seeing Red addresses this, depicting the anguish of a girl caught unprepared at school when her period starts, then using an array of filmic techniques – informed by psychological studies – to induce fury. The intense, graphic and attention-grabbing film hopes to harness those feelings to encourage positive action.

The film was directed by Margot Bowman and produced by Prettybird for agency adam&eveDDB, working with Dr Philip Gable, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Delaware. The overall concept was inspired by research that showed anger is one of the most motivating human emotions, and features a series of fast-paced vignettes portraying infuriating situations, accompanied by a stressful soundtrack (composed by Esther Joy Lane) and harsh graphics. Gable provided insight throughout the film’s development and production, his expertise feeding into everything from the narrative arc and pace, to character portrayal, soundtrack, use of colour, and many other elements of the film. He advised on how to evoke anger in an ethical and responsible way.

Various versions of the film were tested before release, and feedback from those tests was applied to make it as anger-inducing and motivational as possible. Results from the tests showed that viewers felt three times angrier after watching the film (hence it comes with a trigger warning ) and far more likely to want to do something towards the cause, such as buying Hey Girls products – which gives away a period product for every product it sells.

The agency partnered with media agency the7stars, which sourced donated media to roll out the campaign on digital, social and print. All these aspects of the campaign were also designed to elicit motivating anger; for example the print ads feature anonymous, real quotes about negative reactions to period poverty.

“What made this project so unique is that the idea forced us to work in a completely new way,” comments adam&eveDDB global creative director Laura Rogers. “Every creative choice was measured against one question: will it make people angry? We had to listen to the science. This sometimes put us at odds with our instincts to refine and finesse. But when it felt uncomfortable, we knew we were on the right track.”

Galleryadam&eveDDB: Seeing Red (Copyright © Hey Girls, 2021)

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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