Enhancing public diplomacy
U.S. Department of State
Beginning in 2017, more than one million Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious groups were detained and imprisoned by the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). These people have been subjected to genocide and crimes against humanity and have faced intense surveillance, religious restrictions, forced labor, “re-education” camps, and other human rights abuses. In support of the U.S. government’s broader Indo-Pacific Strategy, DCG created a public diplomacy campaign to educate the European public about the human, economic, and cultural impacts of the PRC’s actions. The objective of the campaign was to garner long-term public support across allied nations for U.S. policy and human rights priorities in the region.
- Strategic communications
- Creative development
- Social media
- Video production
- Paid media
- Web development
We developed a strategy grounded in qualitative research insights that amplified voices, messages, and content that had already found purchase in the public consciousness in target countries. This strategy had a particular focus on uplifting Uyghur voices and their own stories. Navigating numerous constraints and sensitivities, our approach focused on paid promotion of three key pillars of awareness-centric content:
- Custom-written articles on ShareAmerica (Share.America.gov), a Department of State-owned news-style website. Our best-performing pieces, promoted on Facebook via U.S. embassy accounts, focused on first-person accounts of PRC abuses.
- WEghur Stories (weghurstories.com), an English and French-language podcast hosted by Uyghur academic and activist Dr. Mukaddas Mijit and funded by the U.S. Embassy in Paris.
- We promoted the podcast on Instagram and Spotify. Video testimonials featuring voices from the Uyghur diaspora in Europe on the topics of family separation, oppression and surveillance, forced labor, and keeping their culture alive. Dr. Mijit provided creative direction for the videos, which were hosted on a bespoke website (HearUyghurVoices.com) and promoted via programmatic ad placements on YouTube, connected TV, and other video, display, and keyword search placements.
Due to budget constraints, the campaign was confined to France, Belgium, and Luxembourg, countries our research indicated would be most receptive to messaging on these issues.
Throughout the campaign, we evaluated performance against our core objectives, including ad placements and the foundational content they promoted.
- Promoting ShareAmerica content was one of our most effective and cost-efficient strategies. Across French, Flemish, and English versions, these ads garnered 156,000 total website sessions with an average session time of nearly 80 seconds – long enough to read all or most of each article, making sessions our best available metric to measure consumption and comprehension of campaign messaging.
- Promotion of WEghur Stories generated 15.6 million impressions, 51,000 clicks, and an overall click through rate (CTR) of 0.33%. We also grew WEghur Stories on Spotify from 10% to 32% of their overall listenership. WEghur Stories’ popularity in France and Belgium led to those countries becoming Spotify’s second and third-most popular markets, respectively, behind the United States.
- The Hear Uyghur Voices campaign yielded over 1.09 million clicks to the site during the brief ad flight. Additionally, the campaign garnered 34.9 million video views of the 15 and 30-second ads.
- The landing page saw an engagement rate of 19.4% during the campaign flight. Programmatic pre-roll video also saw an outstanding 4.40% CTR.