Ovira, the menstrual pain relief brand responsible for multiple scathing billboards parked outside Knox Grammar and Downing Court in Sydney, has now apologised after allegations it did not gain consent from violence survivors or their families for the campaign.
Anti-violence activist Tarang Chawla questioned the intent of the ‘Your Lucky Stars’ campaign, which aims to raise funds for various women’s refuges and not-for-profit organisations, and whether it was ethically sound.
After he was approached by the company to be a supporter of the campaign and later spoke with journalist and fellow anti-violence activist Nina Funnell, Tarang alleged the Ovira team had not gained consent from both of Nicholas Drummond‘s victims before charging head-first into the campaign.
Tarang alleged that when he was in talks with the Ovira team, they admitted to not having consent from the man who Drummond assaulted, 20 hours before the campaign was due to launch.
“I was emailing Ovira who wrote to me saying they did not have consent from the male victim but would now obtain it because it’s important to get that,” Tarang wrote. “And [they] asked if I knew of a way to contact him.”
“I expected a private company who purports to stick up for the victim survivors to have obtained the consent of the people whose pain sparked their campaign in the first place.
“Ovira sought this consent at the 11th hour. You can’t retrofit consent.”
Tarang also advised Ovira about the data collection and useage issues with one of their campaign ideas, where the company planned to ask women about their experiences of sexual and domestic assault, to create an online community for other people to share their own stories and feel supported.
Despite telling the company that he couldn’t support the campaign because he “had to do right by all victim survivors”, Tarang claimed Ovira used his name, image, and attributed a quote to him on the company’s website, supporting the campaign.
He also claimed that Ovira was deleting comments from women questioning whether the brand had actually gotten consent from victim survivors, and whether the campaign was also including support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities it had taken stats from to signal boost the ‘Count Your Stars’ campaign.
“In future, please listen to survivors and advocates before you act,” Tarang wrote.
“Design campaigns with them, not just for them. They know a lot more than you might think.
“After all, silencing genuine concerns makes it harder to understand the good intentions behind a branded billboard that ever said ‘You won’t silence our pain’ in the first place.”
Following these claims, Ovira’s founder, Alice Williams posted an open letter to the company’s social media, confirming the company “organised this campaign while gaining the consent and support from both victims”, but admitted mistakes were made in the process of developing the ‘Count Your Stars’ campaign.
“We know that in trying to create change, learning from our mistakes is a part of the process,” she wrote.
“We know that we are not perfect, but I do know that we are trying to do our best.
“I am completely heartbroken by and incredibly sorry for any hurt our mistakes have caused. I am sorry to any victim survivors who have been let down by us. We are committed to learning and doing better.”
At the time of writing, the Count Your Stars campaign is still active, and has raised over $40,000 for five nominated charities.
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