Red Cross campaign compares Chinese human right violations to olympic sports


Red Cross campaign compares Chinese human right violations to olympic sports

Odd Scouts has created a campaign for the Swedish youth Red Cross that is sure to piss off the Chinese (like the old Coke & Tibetan monks ad). In this campaign, pictures that show the police or military chasing, beating or even strangling protestors is marked with a small symbol explaining which olympic sport it is - like the 400 meter dash, wrestling, boxing and baseball.

The images carry the line "Arranging the Olympic games is not a human right. Continue the discussion at" which is the red cross youth site in Sweden.

Simon Brouwers at Red Cross youth in Sweden said to Resumé: "We know that it's a topic that concerns a lot of young people, and right now when China is hosting the Olympic games with one hand, and shutting down protests in Tibet with the other it was a perfect time to highlight the topic. The campaign is not anti-China, but pro human rights "

The campaign will run in donated media-space in newspapers and magazines, as well as on the web on community and youth sites - it's already had it's first appearance in a magazine called "Red Pages".

Ad agency: Odd Scouts
Creative: Martin dos Santos and Fredric Thunholm
Mats Thomasson, Planner
Ulrika Jakobsson, Production leader

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Ad type: 


I'd like to point out that, this series of campaigns lack the basic accuracy and it is very unprofessional and embarrasing for the Red Cross and whatever agency that dealt with this project.

The police wearing blue uniforms were in fact Napalese not Chinese as the ads would indicate. I am astonished that such an obvious and almost arrogant error would have happened in a such an important ad campaign by the Red Cross... This would have extremely damaged the image of the organisation, dampend the message that they had tried to get across to the audience and most important and definitley lost a lot of confidence and trust from people in the Red Cross.

What an embarrasement...

I'll assume that your odd use of paste tense (as if this campaign wasn't running right now) is one of those ESL things. The "whatever agency" is clearly credited as "Odd Scouts" btw.

After contacting the Red Cross Sweden, I have got the email from Simon Brouers stating they have made a mistake in the information they received, regarding these particular images they used for the campaign. They apologised and I am waiting to hear what the Red Cross is planning to do about it.

Wait, they're real (as in not staged) images? I thought the shots were staged. In that case, what a silly mistake to make - though I'm not sure I would call it arrogant which is conceited, smug or snobbish. Ignorant, uninformed, naive, uneducated, or you know just plain dumb works for me.

They're real shots from the recent news of the Nepali police beating back Tibetan monks who were protesting China's occupation of Tibet (That's the connection) - check google images for similar.

I thought that Nepal was run by a Maoist communist government = Chinese puppets.

To clarify; the mistake was made when we told you the picture were from Tibet when they were infact from Nepal. We will continue to use the pictures in our campaign. And I repeat, the campaign is not anti-china, its pro-human rights.

The picture doesnt show any Chinese policemen. What it shows are the consequences for those who react towards Chinas behavior in Tibet. So sure, you can choose to be angry over how the pictures show the wrong perspective. We choose to be angry over Chinas violation on human rights and the consequences they create, even in Chinas neighboring countries. In the campaign we also show several pictures taken in China where the Chinese authorities are in focus.

Simon Brouwers
Head of Communications
Red Cross Youth Sweden
[email protected]

This is turning into a very interesting thread. Thanks for the clarification Simon.

I don't see what's wrong with the images when the copy never claims them to be from China. You have images of riots (in Nepal, showing Tibetan monks clashing with police, when demonstrating to get China out of Tibet) and the copy says "Arranging the Olympic games is not a human right. Continue the discussion at " Obviously, the images are meant to foster a discussion.

This campaign is simply groundless. It uses five pictures in their ad. Three of them were taken in Nepal and on the other two there was not even a single Tibetan person!

How on earth can Chinese government hold responsibility for what Nepalese police were doing? How can you demonstrate anything using a picture taken without any context?

People in the west outcries a crackdown in Tibet in March. For goodness’s sake, after four months we could not even get a decent picture to show it. Yes, there was media restriction from the Chinese government. But thousands of western tourists were actually in Tibet when the riot happened and this is 21st century, would you believe with all those mobile phone cameras and camcorders, no one, yes, not a single person has ever made one shot? How ridiculous!

Shame on the Swedish youth Red Cross!

My point still stands. I think you're misreading the campaign.

Simon, being the 'Head of Communications' and yet you made such a fundamental error and clearly didn't know the most basic facts about the subject you are supposed to be campaigning about. This just show how little credibility this whole campaign has. And just how ignorant and dumb (thanks Andreas-Udd) this campaign makes the Red Cross look right now.

And Andreas-Udd, I disagree with what you said that this campaign 'never claims them to be from China'. It is directly associated with the Beijing Olympics and China's policy in Tibet. Using these images in this ad concept is very misleading and ask yourselves guys, how many of you immediately jumped to the conlusion that these Nepalese police were Chinese?

Simon, you said 'We choose to be angry over Chinas violation on human rights and the consequences they create, even in Chinas neighboring countries.'

Clearly not! Because before this debate, you didn't even know that those pictures were from Nepal!! You thought there were from Tibet (I've got your email here to show for it). This is obviously the lame excuse the the Red Cross came up to cover up the mess-up.

Yes, there are issues and I am the first to admit that the human rights records along with other things in China need to be addressed and improved. But, not by you Simon, not by the Red Cross under this circumstances. Please educate yourself before jumping on the moral band-wagon and educating other people.

To foster a discussion? Fair enough.


How can you carry out a meaningful discussion without knowing the truth?

How can you carry out a meaningful discussion about China and Tibet looking at some pictures from Nepal?

You're pretty dense aren't you?

you can't answer it, can you?

Being in the UK, I don't trust the propaganda from China. But the propaganda from the western media is also appalling. They use Human Right as a tool to promote their own agenda. They simply discredit the human Right movement a lot.

Do you know who the winner is? It's the Chinese government. In the past many Chinese think only the Chinese media did the propaganda. Now they know the western media do exactly the same thing.

You're all missing the point, the problem with the campaign is this: Photo number 4 is clearly 400m relay and not simply 400m.

Okay, enough of the sarcasm, here's my personal opinion (note the personal and opinion bits; it doesn't mean I'm right or wrong, but what I think. Okay, read on).

I'm the first person to say things that are controversial on sites such as this, but... politics and advertising shouldn't go hand-in-hand. (Yes, I've done the controversial thing again!). Yes, the Red Cross made a big mistake. Don't take it personally. You've informed them and they've responded. You don't like what they said, fair enough, take it to a site that's not about advertising. Highlight your issues with it and take it to the wider world. I think it would do better there as we're supposed to be discussing the ad's merits on this site.

On that note: It's not the best ad in the world by any stretch of the imagination and to me looks like something a student on a advertising website's forums might present as a first idea. Simon purports to be representing human rights and not hating Chinese, but he can't have his cake and then eat it. The line is about being anti-Chinese, while the imagery is definitely about pro-human rights. It can't see how it can be just the latter with that line (or translation of it, I can't read Swedish to know if it's definitely correct).

The first line of the accompanying text posted by Dabitch says it's designed to piss off the Chinese and it's certainly done that job. And as for Western propaganda, yes we all know about it. And if any of us think that our own country is immune from doing nasty things to other people in our name, then it's time to start reading the newspapers. I'm ashamed of the UK government's recent activities, in line with US foreign policy in Iraq for example, but it's still being done. Just as I know there are Chinese people in despair of their country's policies towards its own people.

Wholenineyards had something to say, said it and got clarification. Nonothing, I think you joined this site under another name just to flame someone. Shame. Perhaps you had something to add to the discussion - that advertising doesn't always present the truth, for example, although I'll admit it's not in the same league as the beauty industry using CGI to make eye lashes look longer. Maybe not.

Anyway, I don't to weigh in on the political nature of these ads. All I want to say is they don't do anything for me in terms of layout, impact, or message as I find it's confusing two things: Olympics in Beijing and human rights. One or the other.

If you're read this far, thanks. I hope it was worth it.

"It's not the best ad in the world by any stretch of..."

It actually is one of the worst ad which is misleading, cheating, persistent on mistakes, refuse to apologies and refusing correction

it is thick and the whole ad is just full of trash really!

why don't you choose the best example of abusing human right , e.g. those British and Americans in Iraq, for such a 'well-timed' advertisement of your hypocrisy human-right campaign?

This ad is outrageously negligent and Red-X's name has been damaged because of it!

Shame on Red Cross!

That's what your corporate mass media want you to believe, dude.

China abandoned Maoist doctrines some 30 years ago and has embraced market economy (a.k.a. capitalism) ever since. Connection between the Nepalese Maoist rebels and the Chinese government is most unlikely because of a) the ideological difference, and b) bad diplomatic implications, etc.

Yes, the PRC was behind Ho Chi Minh's army in the Vietnam War and hence gave the Americans huge headache. But that era has long gone. Ever heard of Ping Pong Diplomacy? No more exporting Communist revolutions from China.

All that is now history. Pity your media don't tell you this.

BTW, at the time these pictures were taken, Nepal was still under an unpopular monarchy. Police in Kathmandu, i.e. those in picture, were still loyal to the Nepalese King at that time. Only shortly afterwards the Maoists won the parliamentary election and subsequently made the king to abdicate. Now can you see how absurd your assumption was?

Nothing extraordinary here. You can easily read everything on Wikipedia or elsewhere if willing to do a bit research. But hey, why didn't your media seem to have made any impression of it?

I actually got that info from the Wikipedia, but fine, I'm leaving this thread alone. I think the nuance of the Swedish line is totally lost in the English translation and read in a much different way in English. I see the Nepal point, I just disagree with it as it's not read the way you probably think it is, in Swedish. (Full disclosure - I speak Swedish).

Hi all,

I have managed to trace back to the source of one of the images that was used for this particular campaign, which 'allegedly' portraits Chinese army's unrest of Tibetan or the China's human rights abuse.

It was actually taken at an 'Anti-illegal stowaway inspection practice' which took place in Zhe Jiang province in October 2006. I have attached the original image (uncropped), you can also see it online at this address:

As you can see, there are shipment containers in the background which indicates that the location is by the sea, and you should know Tibet is nowhere near any sea! There are also other images taken on the same day and here's the link to the news piece about this practice on XinHua net - China's news agency.

This is a typical example of ignorance and hypocricy. Using fake image to make your point and cropping the images to twist the fact? What has the Red Cross become? Where's your sense of reponsibility and concience? This campaign is a total sham and you really should be ashamed of yourselves.

As a regular Red Cross donor, I could only hope the British Red Cross could do a better job. Otherwise I have to seriously be thinking if my money is being used properly.

I think it's worth pointing out to all concerned that this isn't The Red Cross International, but the Swedish Youth Red Cross. No one (as far as I can discern) can claim that these ads represent the Red Cross International message on human rights.

I'm happy to be corrected on that point, though. :)

The whole thing has educated me how arrogant, hypocritical and stubborn some Westerners and Western groups are .

Well, if someone wants to be the enemy of 1.3 billions Chinese people. That is fine.

New Study Estimates 600,000 Civilian Iraqi Death Toll

Health researchers in Baghdad and the US have turned up a surprising new estimate of Iraq's civilian death toll since the beginning of the US-led invasion in 2003. But it's only an extrapolation, even if its methods look sound.

A Shiite family cries over bodies of relatives after they were brought to a hospital in Baqouba on October 4, 2006.

A Shiite family cries over bodies of relatives after they were brought to a hospital in Baqouba on October 4, 2006.
A new estimate of civilian deaths in Iraq since the war started in 2003 has been released by a team of American and Iraqi public health researchers through Johns Hopkins University, and their figure -- 601,027 -- is the highest estimate so far.

It's not a precise count, and researchers acknowledged a range of 426,369 to 793,663 deaths -- a margin of error of almost 200,000. In any case the new numbers far exceed other estimates by the Iraqi government, the United Nations, aid groups, and President Bush. The study came in for immediate criticism. Frederick Jones, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told USA Today that the same group of researchers had released a 2004 study that "wildly inflated the findings."

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health took samples of casualties from Iraqi households to extrapolate a total death count covering just over three years from March 2003 to July 2006. A previous study by the group using the same methods arrived at a total of 100,000 in a 2004 report. But that number was criticized as high, in part because it used a relatively narrow sampling of about 1,000 families.

The new study samples 1,849 families in 47 different neighborhoods across Iraq. Researchers said the selection of geographical areas in 18 regions across the country was based on population size, not the level of violence. In 92 percent of the sampled homes, they said, families had death certificates.

"The best of what you can expect"

Statistics experts in the United States who reviewed the study said the interviewing methods looked legitimate. Robert Blendon, director of the Harvard Program on Public Opinion and Health and Social Policy, said talking to urban dwellers chosen at random was "the best of what you can expect in a war zone."

Sign up for Spiegel Online's daily newsletter and get the best of Der Spiegel's and Spiegel Online's international coverage in your In- Box everyday.

But he added that the number of deaths in the families interviewed -- 547 in the post-invasion period versus 82 in a similar period before the invasion -- was too few to extrapolate up to more than 600,000 deaths across the country during the war.

The study included about 53,000 non-violent deaths that the authors said should be attributed to the war because of its effect on health care. Gilbert Burnham, the study's lead author, defended the figures by saying they showed an increase in death rates that was similar to the increase shown by another civilian casualty project, Iraq Body Count, which collates deaths reported in the news media. But Iraq Body Count puts the current maximum death toll at just short of 49,000.

Iraq's Health Ministry gives an estimate of 50,000 violent deaths through June 2006. The Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, estimated the civilian toll at 60,000. US President Bush put the number at 30,000 last December.

Great job, Big Phew. Much better than that Swedish youth Red Cross.

Big Phew, I've deleted the horrific and super-depressing war images that you posted (and the spam-trap didn't automatically ban) which were mainly from Iraq as I find that way of 'debating' quite unproductive. Look at how whole9yards laid up his argument, he pointed out his concerns about the ad campaign, giving us information on what was wrong in it to back up his argument. What you're doing is saying "this is also wrong" and pointing to the war in Iraq. Even if we totally agree that what you showed in those images is wrong - it has no bearing on the red cross ad campaign. It's a bit like when children fight and mom tells them to stop, but their only defense is "he started it".

Just to be clear, you can have a different opinion to anyone here on the site but posting images of people getting shot in the head is not the level of discourse.

I'm leaving up the Swede-pun image though as I find that hilarious.

the material used in the ad and the hence explanations are more childish IMO.

the pictures I posted are more disturbing but I believe it is more suitable for the Swede-ish youth to be aware the human right abuse in Iraq!

by deleting them is a coward behavior!

in your logic, delete something that is 'super-depressing' but true is more appropriate than uses manipulated fake pictures to attack China who is the most peace loving country in the world!


you can delete the pictures but people can easily find them by searching "death in Iraq" or "abuse in Iraq" on Google's Image Search.

China is to host Olympic - a happy event, while you can see what is Americans doing in Iraq...

and WHY ATTACKING CHINA? maybe only the Red X can tell us!? show us your LITTLE!

you can manipulate one or two pictures...but not the truth!

Many of the insults being spat between users on this thread are weakening and clogging what might be good arguments. Such a display of aggression is unnecessary.

As a U.S. citizen, and a member of humanity, I am ashamed by the torture of Iraqi prisoners, as well as ALL acts that neglect and break human rights. Certain polls suggest that a majority of American disapprove of the Iraq war in general. (see site: )

I believe that Big Phew has, although in a very lengthy approach, made a good point about the US soldiers torturing Iraqis. It was wrong. However, such an argument does not make this specific ad campaign wrong. What COULD make this ad campaign wrong, or rather, MISLEADING, is that the images certainly suggest to the public that China, since it is holding the Olympics this year, has broken human rights. It is not entirely evident that the Chinese are doing so in these pictures.

I do not like being mislead. I prefer to be informed. This ad places the Chinese in a very negative light simply because it has become common for individuals to associate the "oppression of Tibetans" as a Chinese effort.

The covert attack on China may be misleading, but I still like this ad. It reminds me that all people do not have the right to protest. I would lay may head on a block for that right.

so you are saying you like to be misled, you might like to be abused as well:-)?

I am sure there are many many many many PROTESTS on Iraqis' streets and I hope you go there and join them!

I don't like this ad and I think its organisers are taking the piss!

Hi Big phew,

First of all, thanks for your support and I understand your passion and frustration. However, I will have to agree with dabitch and may I suggest us all to be cool-headed and collected. Insulting the Red Cross or Simon personaly is not our purpose or goal of this debate. We simply want to point out the error in this campaign and try to put this typical ignorant western mindset to rest. I agree that we need to be firm with our opinions, but I also believe, we need to present a rational argument to convince and educate other people, shouting over eachother or 'verbally' attacking each other would only weaken our stand. What do you think?

Once again, thanks!

Swede-ish Youth Red Cross clearly know what they are doing...

to me they are bitching and abusing China - my motherland.

please allow me showing my anger

I have no regret point out the most disgusting truth is that these ill-educated western youth thinking that it is alright to kill millions of people in Iraq and attacking a peace loving country like China by deliberatly faking pictures!

you ask me a thousand times...

I will say f that!

I don't take that shait!

I don't think there are many people contributing here who would say that their country is immune to criticism. I'm from the UK: my motherland is bloodstained, and continues to be so. I do not object to people pointing that out, because I agree. You obviously have a great attachment to your country, and no-one would deny you that. But to do well in our industry, we must be socially, politically and culturally aware – if we were not, we couldn't reflect our society, which is what we must do if we are to communicate effectively. Our society is the world: some of us see China as a place where human rights are perhaps not given the same importance as they are given in other places. This is probably hypocritical, but nevertheless it's based on what we are told, unless we have seen it for ourself. So: are we wrong?

Big Phew makes a number of valid comments. It is also easy to understand part of why he is upset because this group affiliating itself with a relatively non-partisan organization like the Red Cross, which relies upon it's neutrality to provide its services in many countries, is suddenly is dragged into the political domain... now on two high profile fronts.

In Columbia, government security agents used Red Cross bibs to help shield agents during the rescue of hostages. The government apologized, but the Red Cross credibility suffers.

This ad should be considered negligent to the interests of the goals and operations of the Red Cross worldwide. Why is of no importance... unless the Red Cross is choosing to advocate political statements by groups under its umbrella.

Overall, it is rather naive. In any language.

We all accept the ad is poor and in poor taste (some would go further or be more vehement in their appraisal and so be it for them). However, just like Big Phew, I don't really like having comments that are untrue thrown against me. The problem is, Big Phew is making them.

To assume I believe my country (the UK) is immune to criticism is dangerous, especially when putting forward such vitriol. I don't doubt he is offended, but don't blame me for that. To do so is hypocritical and shows a lack of maturity and also the cultural landscape of this website.

I can't and wont' apologise for the ads from the Swedish (point that out, not the whole 'Western' civilisation) Red Cross, they have nothing to do with me. I don't like them and think they are wrong, but they are not my fault.

Big Phew would do better to not generalise about people on this blog or all Westerners. In doing so, he is weakening his own argument that we not tar all Chinese with the same anti-human rights brush.

My suggestion to Big Phew, as before, would be to take his issues direct to the organisation involved rather than pollute an ad-based website with politically charged vitriol. You are doing yourself or your country no favours with your current stance and language.

Seconded (see above).

This thread is closed for any new comments.
The reason for this is quite simple, I wish to go to sleep witout waking up to picture-filled-thread tomorrow morning, and frankly, I don't trust some of our new friends here to behave. Despite the fact that basically everyone in the thread has agreed that using the wrong pictures is - duh - wrong, some will fight windmills with atombombs forever. It's getting tiresome to watch. Plus, I am the dictator of adland so, bite me.