This Photo Booth Surprised Women With Pictures That Mirror Domestic Violence Statistics

DDB hacks facial recognition for Terre Des Femmes

Headshot of Patrick Coffee

Facial recognition software has come a long way since researchers began programming computers to pick out human features in the mid-’60s.

A recent project by the Berlin offices of DDB in collaboration with women’s rights group Terre Des Femmes found a new, shocking application for the technology: highlighting the prevalence of domestic violence.

Violence perpetrated against domestic companions remains a worldwide epidemic. In 2014, the National Network to End Domestic Violence estimated that three American women die at the hands of their own intimate partners every day. One in four German women experience it at some point in their lives.

In an execution staged on International Women’s Day this March, DDB shone a light on that fact with the help of a Berlin fixture—the photo booth, or photoautomat.

The agency worked with design firm Polyxo Studios to create the customized booth, which “applied bruises” to one of four female faces in each relevant photo set to mirror the statistic mentioned above.

The collaboration promoted the work of Terre Des Femmes or “Women’s Earth,” a nonprofit based in Hamburg that works with other such groups around the world in efforts to prevent still-common practices like forced prostitution, arranged marriages and female genital mutilation.

“Domestic violence is a major problem in Germany. It affects one in four women at least once in their lifetime. Unfortunately, most people don’t know about this,” said the group’s managing director, Christa Stolle. “With this photo booth activation, we clearly demonstrate how serious the problem is, and show that we all can do something to change this picture: by spreading information, by supporting the victims, by sharing this video.”

DDB managing creative director Myles Lord added, “This action is a great example of what happens when you bring creatives and technologists together to the same table,” calling the project “a powerful idea made more powerful by a tireless development team who put not only their minds but also their hearts into this initiative.”

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.